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Girl Scouts Get First-Hand Engineering Experience

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates around a quarter of STEM jobs are filled by women, but an event in south central Indiana this weekend aimed at giving Girl Scouts a chance to hone their inner-engineer.

An all-day event on Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus Saturday aimed to get girls excited about STEM through several activities and discussions with professionals in the field of engineering. Cook Medical, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, the Society of Women Engineers from Southwest Central Indiana, and other local community sponsors worked to put on the event.

Cook Medical sustaining engineer Asha Kirchhoff helped plan the activities and talks. She says one of the big goals is to help young girls visualize their own options in life.

“So these girls can see women who have become engineers and realize it’s possible for them to do the same thing,” Kirchhoff says.

The scouts also had a chance to do some engineering of their own and make structures to withstand a pretend earthquake, after learning about engineers and their efforts to improve safety around seismic activity. Not all stick, straw, and clay creations survived the 20 second table tremor, but that fit with another theme of the day: everybody fails before they succeed.

Kirchhoff says the activities were designed to get the girls thinking about the process of what it means to be an engineer.

“You brainstorm solutions, you look at your resources, you build a model you test it, it breaks, so you redesign it you retest and eventually you get to something that works,” Kirchhoff says.

Scouts also had the opportunity to ask a panel of women engineers questions about their profession, experiences, and favorite flavor of Girl Scout cookie during lunch. Later, local businesses and other community partners who work with engineers showed off different demonstrations focused around engineering and science.

Organizers say it’s important to connect girls with different subjects early, especially STEM, and they hope to add even more participants in future years of the program.

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