June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.565.1 - 11.565.13
Engineering Exploration for Junior Girls Scouts: Partnership, Activities, Insight, and Reflection Mary B. Vollaro, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Western New England College, Springfield, MA 01119
Western New England College (WNEC), School of Engineering has partnered for three years with the Western Massachusetts and Pioneer Valley Girl Scout organizations to present an “Engineering Exploration” program for Junior Girl Scouts, who are typically in 4th, 5th and 6th grades. The day’s program was designed meet two primary goals. The first is to educate young girls about the engineering profession and, the second is to provide an experience that would leave our participants with a positive impression about careers in engineering. WNEC faculty members highlight the creativity and problem-solving traits of engineers with examples from all disciplines of engineering. These ideas are put into action with a hands-on engineering design project, such as looping roller coasters or LegoTM vehicles, to fit the capabilities of girls in our target age group. A workbook, which contains the basic steps in the engineering design process and the specific instructions to complete the activity, was developed. The Girl Scouts work in teams of three or four, along with WNEC engineering students, who are the mentors for the activity. Insight to the success of this activity is gained from two surveys, i.e., 1) to determine if they had the qualities to be an engineer and 2) to see change in knowledge of the engineering profession (a before and after look). Overall, as all participants reflect on this activity, positive feedback from the girls is sensed by the excitement in the room as they share their design projects with others, enthusiasm of our WNEC engineering students as they leaving saying they would like to help again next year, and parents and Girl Scout leaders leaving the activity with smiles, and positive comments.
II. Objective The objective of this yearly outreach program is to educate young girls in 4th through 6th grade about the engineering profession. Our activities are focused on providing an experience that would leave our participants with a positive impression about careers in engineering. Also included in our “Engineering Exploration” program is some basic information on the field of engineering, including the areas of mechanical, electrical, industrial and biomedical engineering (WNEC engineering programs), and the role engineers play in all aspects of our society.
Specifically, the program addresses the question, “Who is an engineer?”, with the very general answer of, “An engineer is a problem solver.”. With the assumption that all the girls in attendance have solved a problem, whether it is a technical one, disagreement between
Vollaro, M. (2006, June), Engineering Exploration For Junior Girl Scouts: Partnership, Activities, Insight, And Reflection Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--813
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