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Increasing Girls' Interest In Engineering By Making It Fun

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Gender and Minority Issues in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.720.1 - 15.720.12



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Paper Authors


Jeanne Christman Rochester Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Jeanne Christman is an Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her academic area of distinction is in Embedded Systems Design. Jeanne received a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Clarkson University and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. She worked in industry as an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) designer prior to joining the faculty at RIT.

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Elizabeth Dell Rochester Institute of Technology

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Elizabeth Dell is an Assistant Professor of Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She is the Program Chair for Undeclared Engineering Technology. Dell received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University and has an MS in Macromolecular Science & Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has worked in the automotive industry in the development of plastic products from fuel system components to interior trim. Research interests include sustainable materials development, characterization, and application and increasing the diversity of the engineering workforce.

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Robert Garrick Rochester Institute of Technology

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ROBERT D.GARRICK, Rochester Institute of Technology, College of Applied Science and Technology. Robert is an Associate Professor. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, MS in Mechanical Engineering, MBA, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, and a PE license in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to this academic position Robert worked 25 years in the automotive component industry. His primary research interests are in the domain of product realization, and energy efficient-sustainable buildings. He can be reached at or through

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Increasing Girls’ Interest in Engineering by Making it Fun

Abstract This paper describes a workshop, led by female Engineering Technology students with support from female faculty members, that introduces engineering concepts to 4th -7th grade girls through a series of interactive laboratory experiments. The day-long workshops are offered to area Girl Scouts and are intended to increase the girls’ interest in engineering. In support of this goal, hands-on experiments are carefully designed to: 1) show the girls that science can be both fun and creative 2) connect science and engineering to things in everyday life that they already know and care about 3) demonstrate that women can make a positive impact on the world with a career in engineering. The workshops take place on the college campus and make use of four different Engineering Technology laboratories. The girls spend one hour in each lab where they are presented with an overview of that particular engineering technology and a brief description of the theory behind the experiment that they will be performing. Using tools and measuring equipment found in the laboratories, the experiments are performed entirely by the girls with guidance from the student volunteers. To culminate the day all of the Girl Scouts meet with the student volunteers for a question-and-answer period. During this panel discussion, the girls are encouraged to ask questions relating to the students’ decisions to study engineering and their career aspirations along with their college experiences. Having the educational material presented by college students seems to have a much bigger impact on this age group than when the same material is presented by someone older. The participation of the female college students helps to dispel many of the negative stereotypes about engineers that some of the girls arrive with. By combining girl-centric activities with the opportunity to work side-by-side with female college students the girls leave the day with a more positive view of science than they had when they arrived. Surveys given at the start and end of the day quantitatively confirm the change in attitudes of the girls. A corollary benefit to these workshops is for the college students who volunteer their time for the program. The students work together within their own department to develop the activities and facilitate the experiments. They also work with the female students from the other departments in the panel discussion and overall organization of the day. The students gain the satisfaction of influencing the attitudes of the Girl Scouts as well as developing a sense of community with their classmates. The students improve their communication skills and increase their knowledge of their own majors, both of which contribute to confidence when speaking to interviewers. Feedback from student volunteers indicates that this program is as important for them as it is to the Girl Scouts who attend.


To allow the United States to continue to compete in the global marketplace we need a workforce that possesses strong skills in the areas of science and technology. With our ever increasing technology-based society and predicted high rates of retirements for engineers over

Christman, J., & Dell, E., & Garrick, R. (2010, June), Increasing Girls' Interest In Engineering By Making It Fun Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16118

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015