Girls love science and engineering
It was a competition where everyone was on deck.
The second-grade girls collected items on a supply table and formed small teams to create racing cars, powered by the spring-loaded mechanism of a mousetrap.
“I would say when you look at it, it looks pretty tough and scary,” said Wallace Jr./Sr. sophomore Maddison White. High school. “Then when you have a whole bunch of people around to make you feel comfortable, I would say when everyone listens to each other’s ideas, it works a lot better.”
Students used supplies such as mousetraps, CDs, pegs, pencils, balloons, tape, and string. White said his contribution was the idea of putting balloons on the compact discs to give the “wheels” a bit more traction to help the car slide better. She said that through trial and error, they found better ways to design the car.
“We’ve made progress,” White said. “I’ve learned that working as a team and listening to other people’s ideas can actually create a better understanding and a better product.”
Other activities throughout the day included computer science where students learned how computers distinguish between spam and non-spam, environmental science where students learned about the ecology of the lake Coeur d’Alene and looking at plankton under a microscope, and a math project where students learned how identifying patterns provides the solution to many problems.
150 sophomores from 10 northern Idaho high schools participated in the Women in Science and Engineering hands-on event sponsored by the University of Idaho.
“We really try to motivate girls to pursue STEM careers,” said Sharon Bosley, U of I STEM Outreach Assistant. “We try to give them a glimpse of what their career or research might look like.”
She said they taught the girls how science can be fun, immersive and hands-on. They also invited women with scientific careers to join as role models for the girls.
“We’re just trying to inspire young women in our community to consider going to school in science and engineering,” Bosley said. “I hope it motivates and interests them.”
Students from the college’s ambassador team, Alyssa Hansten who is studying biological engineering and Madelynn Gregoire who is studying civil engineering, helped lead some of the engineering activities.
Gregoire said they host many events like the one on Wednesday, helping high school students pursue engineering careers and get interested in engineering.
“We are really big supporters of women,” Gregoire said. “It’s one of our goals of the University Engineering program, to help underrepresented diversity groups have opportunities to explore STEM in a truly safe and competitive space.”
Hansten said that in elementary school, kids are all very interested in science and engineering, but by the time they reach high school, they’ve lost that spark.
She said it was important to break down that wall of “It’s not cool to be a nerd” and rekindle that spark.
“Everyone loves to learn about the natural world,” Hansten said. “Everyone is a STEM enthusiast. We just forget that by the time we get to high school and are trying to decide what we want to do with our lives.