Reuben H. Fleet Science Center ‘Sci Tech Girls’ Field Trip Dec 10th, 2011
The Sci Tech girls – fourth to eighth grade girls from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center after school program – came in for their first plant visit today to meet a few engineers and to learn a little more about engineering. Thirty girls rolled out of the bus at a quarter till nine with three chaperones. Ten volunteers from our ‘Women in Engineering’ affinity group – closely associated with the Society of Women Engineers – welcomed them to our discussion, hands on activity, and tour.
The girls were alert and attentive during our introductory ‘From Turbines to Facebook’ engine basics. They wanted to know how our company was founded, what our engines were doing in the various countries, how the parts came into the company to be manufactured, and what we were doing to support the green energy initiatives. If we didn’t have a preset schedule – including a tour and hands-on build a generator activity – we very well might have still been talking about electricity, blackouts, pumping stations, how fuel gets to the engines, and the power grid itself.
I’ve participated in quite a few youth based initiatives from our annual bring your child to work day to other SWE K-12 outreach events. The youth always tend to enjoy the icebreakers, hands on activities and tours. But there was something very different about this set of very young girls – mostly under the age of 10 – that went beyond their high degree of being respectful and attentive. They had developed the art of asking questions. Good, open-ended questions, to probe the depths of what it is like to be an engineer.
The ability to ask questions is by definition key to the scientific mind. It is a key part of the art of discovery and crucial in problem solving. When I commented on how well the girls had asked questions, their education director credited this skill to training. They have the girls watch videos of scientists and engineers – from their Sci Tech blog – and have them practice asking questions. Their skills of scientific inquiry were definitely paying off. They had won the hearts of the volunteers as their young protegees asked questions about their jobs, what a typical day in the life of an engineer was, and how this fit into the world around us.
By 1pm, our lively Q&A session with our engineering panel – representing manufacturing, design, and analysis – wrapped up. The students meticulously picked up their personal belongings cleaning up the area around them, expressed their sincere gratitude, and piled back onto the bus heading home to the science center.
Video Interview of Female Engineers for the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center wants to video record interviews of female STEM role models for their SciTech Blog to help portray the variety of career choices in science and engineering available to girls and how what they are learning today can be applied to these jobs. If you would like to show them just how cool your job is, how you became interested in the field and tell them a part of your real life and hobbies outside of work, Jacklyn Abbond is your point of contact. The interviews are generally less than 8 minutes – they can record it for you or you can send in your own video. The choice is yours.
Calling on Ingenieras
If you are bilingual, they will do the interview in both English and Spanish. Spread the word! Make a difference. Show them how YOU make a difference in this world and improve people’s lives!
Target group: 9 – 13 year old girls. The nonprofit after school program and resources were developed by our very own San Diego based Reuben H Fleet Science Center. Jacklyn is also looking for companies who might like to host a weekend tour and hands-on technical learning activity.
Update Nov 8th — The San Diego Computer-Using Educators (SDCUE) conference consisted of four rooms of vendor displays, six 45 minute presentation tracks of 19 presentations/track. I had heard there were 90 educators in attendance – but I want to say there were more. The vendors were selling their wares from a 75 zoom projector microscope attracting educators to their display of the resting non-descript bugs sitting on a twig in a white paper coffee cup, plenty of software packages, and even the Science Fair folks and a team from the Ruben H Fleet Science Center advertising their afterschool events. Nothing else engineering related that I could see.
My presentation was in a computer lab, with a computer and monitor on every desktop. With the short ceiling and free-standing projector screen squeezed in between the first row of desks and the chalk board, it was a little tough for the audience to look over their monitors to see the full screen. The ten minutes between classes, was just enough time to hook up my laptop for the presentation. I followed a man speaking on emoting software.
The class consisted of 20 people, mostly educators, 1 parent, 2 STEM education majors. One educator was an engineer turned educator :>. One was from the Ruben H Fleet Science Center who wanted to see what the Why So Few? presentation might have to offer. Only one person in the audience had heard of/read the AAUW Report (hats off to the Ruben H Fleet education specialist). For the remainder of the class, 90% of the material was new.
From the parents program feedback, and the handful of educators I had met in them, I had come to the general impression that educators were aware of some of the older pieces of research – like the stereotype threat that is at least 15 years old. But after this event, I have to recalibrate as I explained in much fuller detail the background the reasoning behind the research than planned.
Lessons learned: the AAUW research material is still fresh, educators are eager to connect up with engineers who might want to visit and present to their class (great tie in for the SWE-SD Speakers Bureau), and the WGBH materials need help in getting the word out about their opportunities.
— Nov 4th — Giving my first presentation to an educators conference – San Diego Computer-Using Educators – at Cal State San Marcos this Saturday Nov 5th, 2001. The title is “Why So Few Girls in Engineering? Change the Stories!”.