Young engineers get WISE on applied science

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Students host Engineering and Science day for girls aged eight to 11 to encourage female interest in engineering

The University’s Women in Science and Engineering program organized a day of engineering-related activities on Saturday meant to encourage young girls to pursue applied science, which is currently a predominantly male faculty.
The University’s Women in Science and Engineering program organized a day of engineering-related activities on Saturday meant to encourage young girls to pursue applied science, which is currently a predominantly male faculty.
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Sarah Fleming, Sci ’09 and Registration Co-ordinator for Women in Science and Engineering’s (WISE) Engineering and Science Day, said she experienced WISE’s impact first-hand “I’m from Kingston, so I did this when I was younger,” said. “It’s important to get girls to know what’s out there and become familiar with the options in engineering. It’s about more than math and building bridges.” More than 120 girls aged eight to 11 piled into Beamish Munro Hall this past Saturday to participate in a variety of activities geared toward encouraging a love of engineering and science at the Engineering and Science Day, organized by Women in Science and Engineering (W.I.S.E.).

“There are four activity stations that the girls go to,” said Megan McMurray, president of W.I.S.E. “New activities are created every year by volunteers, and the goal is linking science and engineering principles with fun.” Each of the day’s four activities revolved around the construction of a city. The girls learned about transportation systems, water filtration, power plants and computing.

Lili Barbour, Sci ’08 and this year’s event co-ordinator said girls came from as far away as Curtis and Belleville to participate.

Based on the girls’ quick response when assigned the task and hurried talk amongst their team members, an apparent favourite activity involved crash-testing a vehicle they created that would prevent an egg from breaking.

Girls in each of the four activity stations were divided into smaller groups, and in order to have a better grasp of the task they were working on. It was clear through the chattering and giggling amongst the girls that excitement spread throughout the room when the time came to test the effectiveness of their work by crashing their egg car against a wall.

McMurray said this allowed them to consider safety and costs, both of which are important to science and engineering.

“It’s a good introduction to design,” McMurray said, adding that one of the main aims for the set of activities is to increase the number of women studying engineering at the post-secondary level and better balance the current male-female ratio in this field.

“We are not looking for a 100 per cent success rate, but every girl we can spark a little interest in is worth our time,” McMurray said.

In 2005, a total of 132 women graduated with bachelor degrees in applied science, compared with 380 men.

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