Northglenn

Engineering the future for girls

Northglenn program promotes science and technology careers for women

Posted 2/20/17

A day that started off with an engineering challenge involving balloons and tape had an important message — encouraging young women to consider careers in the science and technology fields.

“The moral of the day is the same each year, …

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Northglenn

Engineering the future for girls

Northglenn program promotes science and technology careers for women

Posted

A day that started off with an engineering challenge involving balloons and tape had an important message — encouraging young women to consider careers in the science and technology fields.

“The moral of the day is the same each year, encouraging young women to go into engineering fields and educating them about it,” said Annalise Shine, 17, a former student member of the Go Engineering Day Club. “I feel like the only thing that’s changed drastically is the size and scale in which we do this.”

Northglenn High School’s Third Annual Go Engineering Day kicked off early Feb. 17 with an engineering challenge. Students were given balloons and tape and asked to build a structure as tall as possible that could also stand on its own.

The project set a relaxing and energized tone for female students, some who are interested in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — as a career choice and others who may have never even considered as an option.

This year’s Go Day was the largest yet, with almost 80 students and many women volunteers from a variety of STEM fields. Generous sponsors, such as Dodge Sign Company, CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Sparkfun Electronics, helped make it a success, organizers said.

Go Engineering Day Club’s president Savannah Vanduyn, 17, said it takes about five months to organize the event. The club is led by three Northglenn High School STEM teachers, Emily Schreiner, Shauna McClurg and Val Munroe, and seven Northglenn High School students. Club member Natalie Grambart, 16, said she “loves the organizing aspect of the club: putting the whole day together, sending out emails and setting up tables.”

Another club member, Vivan Vovan, 16, explained that “a few of us will focus on getting grants, another focuses on what we’re going to do for food, and all of us, honestly, do the planning of it, deciding the activities and who to contact.”

“It’s a team project,” club member Jascely Castillo, 15, said. “So at the end, we all have to come together to make it a cohesive event.”

The club’s efforts were not wasted. Go Day offered a career panel where some of the volunteers spoke about their struggles and successes as women in their fields followed by a speed networking session and three workshop opportunities.

“Speed networking is kind of like our version of speed dating — the girls spend five minutes talking to the volunteer across from them,” McClurg said. “They just kind of pick (the volunteer’s) brain. And then in five minutes they rotate. It’s really nice to see the girls. They really open up when they are speaking with other girls.”

The three workshop sessions provided a variety of options for the students.

“We have all these companies volunteer,” McClurg said. “They bring the supplies, and they run the entire workshop for an hour. There’s anything from programming software to building circuits. Last year, we had design — they were designing shoes. Some of the students don’t realize that it’s not just computers. It just opens their eyes up to a whole new world.”

Vanduyn spoke enthusiastically about a previous workshop which had made an impression on her. “A couple years ago we had a workshop where you had to unclog an artery. There was a plastic tube with Playdoh in it, and you had to design a tool to get the Playdoh out without damaging the plastic.”

Volunteer Stacey Forsyth from CU Science Discovery spoke about CU’s workshop Better Books.

“We collaborate with a computer scientist at CU with a project called the Tactile Picture Book Project, which is engaging youth in maker spaces to use 3-D printing and other maker technologies to make children’s books more accessible for children who are blind or vision-impaired,” she said. “We are doing a couple of workshops around that this afternoon, having kids prototype sample pages from books.”

Although each of the students may have finished the day with different experiences, advice and perspectives, Castillo summed up Go Engineering Day by saying, “I like how it is setting up these amazing connections and advice from these women. You really take away a lot from their pre-existing knowledge.”

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