Below is a guest post for the University of Utah SWE
“The University of Utah SWE section recently hosted our annual event, Girl Scout Night. Girls ranging from age 9-16 came to explore the different kinds of engineering.
The event started with a tabling fair, where different clubs and engineering departments came to show the girls what engineers can do. The RoboUtes came to show off their new competition Mars Rover and taught the girls how to drive it, while the Chemical Engineering Department used a Ruben’s tube to demonstrate how sound waves move.
The girls then got to attend four different activity sessions: programming robots, building their own speakers, making and using catapults, and becoming their own production line to make cookies.
Almost all of the girls enjoyed our Process Engineering Lab, where the girls made their own factory line to “mass-produce” cookies. Karli, one of the activity’s leaders, shared about one of the girls. When Anja, another activity leader, explained the activity, she asked if any of the girls knew what the FDA was. One young girl, about 12 years old, piped up, “Food and Drug Administration…Duh.” For the rest of the activity, she took on the role of factory manager and the other volunteers remarked that the girl reminded them of when they were younger. As Karli said, “Engineering starts young.”
For our electrical engineering themed activity, we showed the girls how to make speakers out of styrofoam cups. One of the station leaders, Carina, shared about the her experience with the station. “We had another activity that involved building speakers out of cups. The girls were very excited and they all wanted to test their speakers at once. Getting the speakers to work correctly was a struggle at first, but when it worked, the girls were impressed with their work. It was great because it gave the girls something to take home and continue working with.”
We also featured programming robots, which was a huge hit with the girls. Breanna, one of the station volunteers, shared that the girls were surprisingly good at programming the robots. Although the girls were given a very narrow maze to navigate the robot though, using only pre-programmed commands, they did an excellent job.
To show the girls civil and electrical engineering, our section led an activity on building catapults. The girls were given a kit of wood piece and were told to assemble them in the form of a catapult. They enjoyed launching marshmallows at the wall, and wearing their safety goggles. This activity was definitely a fun station.
For the parents, we hosted a room in which our Section president, Yara, talked about how to grow your own engineer. With the help of some informational packets from Weber State, we were able to show parents how they can help encourage their daughter in engineering.
The response from the program participants was overwhelmingly positive. One parent wrote to say that her young daughter has been talking about the event almost non-stop, telling her mom that engineering is totally a girl thing. Another troop leader wrote about how they can’t wait for next year’s event. And we couldn’t agree more; Girl Scout Night is here to stay!” — Stephi Lietzke