On June 13 the Connecticut Technology Council, along with its collaborators, welcomed forty 7th and 8th grade girls to the Connecticut Science Center where they participated in a highly interactive STEM program.
The program started early, at 8:30am, with a light breakfast and time for the girls to get to know their teammates and mentors. Girls were split into five teams, each led by highly qualified mentors with impressive backgrounds in science and technology.
After a short welcome from the Science Center and Covidien, the girls darted into the exhibits to complete the awaiting challenges. The activities required the girls to work as a team to solve the puzzles and tasks in front of them. Mentors kept the girls engaged by asking thought provoking questions when challenges were conquered, and when they weren’t.
Once the three floors of science challenges had been accomplished, the teams made their way back to “home base” where a Subway lunch awaited. The girls, hungry from an active morning of both physical and mental exertion, devoured the refreshments while listening to an educational wind turbine presentation from eesmarts. Using minimal materials provided the girls were tasked to build their own turbines using the knowledge they just gained from the presentation. They tested their creations using box fans to see whose turbine would twirl the fastest. During the commotion, eesmarts instructor Kathy Brooks challenged the girls to figure out why one turbine failed to spin while another twirled flawlessly.
At the conclusion of the eesmarts wind turbine presentation, UCONN Health Center Associate Professor Caroline Dealy entranced the girls with an engaging talk filled with chicken embryos, skeletal bones, and other visual elements. Through her presentation she highlighted the many avenues one can take when she gets a degree in science, technology, engineering or math. Whether it be lab research or medical law, Dealy helped the girls to see that studying the sciences opens up a whole world of career possibilities.
Speaking of career opportunities, entrepreneurs Kate Pippa and Shivangi Shah were excited to lead the girls through a riveting challenge of their own. Kate and Shivangi are the co-founders of Genius Box, an online company that ships monthly STEM challenges to the front doors of its subscribers. For the Girls of Innovation Science Challenge, Kate and Shivangi led the girls in a fun, sweet, challenge that had them licking their fingers: build the tallest self-supporting structure out of toothpicks and marshmallows. Its hard to say how many marshmallows were spared to complete the project but the room was abuzz with chatter, laughter, and many leaning towers.
Before the girls were released for free time in the science center, Covidien took them on a hands-on tour through some of their most impressive, and expensive, medical devices. Girls got to experience what its like to be a surgeon training for laparoscopic surgery, how to hold and fire a staple gun, and much more.
By the conclusion of the days activities it was easy to see that the girls had made new friendship, learned a great deal about the sciences, and above all, were excited about STEM and its career possibilities. We are incredibly thankful to all of our volunteers, mentors, instructors, and speakers who made this event possible and to Covidien for supporting our on-going mission to inspire young women in STEM.
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