It's no secret that there's a huge push right now to get more girls interested in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). That's why it's so refreshing when you see someone—or some institution, as the case may be—actually doing something about it.
On Thursday, the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken (whose general counsel has made a past appearance on this blog) welcomed 40 middle school girls to its campus for "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day," as part of National Engineering Week.
I was invited to attend and speak with the girls live about everything they were doing but was unfortunately waylaid by work. In lieu of a live report, the folks at Stevens were kind enough to supply me with their reenactment of the day's events, which, they were happy to say, went very well.
The girls, who came from schools in Hoboken, Verona and Branchburg, worked in small groups to design and build a table out of newspaper rolled into tubes. And it couldn't just be for show. The table had to be able to hold a yearbook.
Those groups also took a shot at building a device that allows the user to pick up and drop objects from a distance of at least 2 feet. (I'm envisioning the claw from one of those impossible-to-use prize machines at arcades — but I'm guessing the intent was to create something that actually worked.)
Caitlin Klose, an eighth-grader, told the folks at Stevens that she liked how each group found a different solution to the same problem.
"I love doing projects like this in science class. It's really fun,'' she told them.
Making science fun is the first step (case in point: the toy company GoldieBlox I've written about before). Hopefully those girls then realize all the potential there is when you pursue a career in STEM.
"Today's event shows girls what engineering is and how engineers are changing the world,'' Kristie Damell, assistant dean of students at Stevens, said in a statement. "Engineers are changing the world in every way possible – it's more than math and science; it's being able to look at something and want to make it better.''