Girl Scouts Day, now in its 15th year, introduces girls to the career possibilities they could unlock by focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. It comes amid a growing effort at Clemson and nationwide to fight back against some troubling statistics that have raised concerns women are falling behind in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying careers.
The idea behind Girl Scouts Day is to give girls a chance to try their hand at engineering while matching them with female role models working in the field, said Serita Acker, director of Clemson University’s Women In Science and Engineering (WISE). This year, the girls learned about chemical engineering by comparing two types of laundry detergent, one with enzymes and the other without. They also built a water purification system with sand, gravel, cotton balls, coffee filters, rice and plastic water bottles.
Girl scouts using RC cars to learn about friction on different surfaces
In order to teach the girls about mechanical engineering, WISE collaborated with the CA2VES mechanical engineering team members Dr. John Wagner, Thomas Wang and Mike Fu, as well as Dr. Kapil Chalil Madathil from CUCWD to design a short one hour course on fundamental mechanical engineering concepts. The girls learned about concepts of friction, and then applied that knowledge through operating remote control cars with various wheel types and on different surfaces (pictured to the right).
As part of a civil engineering lesson, girls used K’Nex toys to build and test replicas of some of the nation’s most iconic truss bridges.
Some of the role models came from Lockheed Martin, a long-time partner in Girl Scouts Day, said Leslie Farmer, a spokeswoman in the Greenville office. “We know firsthand the importance of educating our young people in math and science,” she said. “Our future success — and our nation’s technological advantage — depend on a constant supply of highly trained, highly capable technical talent.”
“We’re involving our Girl Scouts in this program for the 15th year because we want to make sure girls have the opportunity to explore education and career opportunities in STEM fields”
“We recognize the disparities between males and females,” said Meika Samuel, STEM manager for Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands. “We’re involving our Girl Scouts in this program for the 15th year because we want to make sure girls have the opportunity to explore education and career opportunities in STEM fields.”
Girl Scouts Day is one of several programs organized by WISE to support females in engineering and science from elementary school to the university level. The group also puts together recruitment days for high school juniors and seniors and summer camps for middle school students.
“Employers understand that diversity makes for a more creative, competitive and innovative workforce,” Acker said. “To ensure the next-generation workforce includes all voices, we need to recruit and retain underrepresented groups. Programs like Girl Scouts Day will help us send more females into the talent pipeline and to rewarding careers in engineering and science.”