Local Girl Scouts get to be engineers for the day

Program allows local girl scouts a day of exploring the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

A group of local girl scouts can now add an engineering badge to their vests after participating in an event hosted by Ohio University’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers on Saturday.

The group of approximately 40 girls, ranging in age from six to 14 years old, learned about the five engineering disciplines offered at OU through the Russ College of Engineering and Technology — chemical and biomolecular, civil, industrial and systems, electrical, and mechanical engineering.

The scouts were a part of the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council, which covers 61 counties in West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland. All of Saturday’s participants were from counties in Southeast Ohio.

“We want to show them that engineering is more than just trains, basically … that there’s different kinds of engineering and that engineering can be fun,” said Marissa Singley, a senior studying mechanical engineering and the president of the Society of Women Engineers.

The activities, one for each discipline of engineering, were organized by society members and lasted 25 minutes each.

Activities included making catapults from Popsicle sticks and rubber bands, constructing and testing bridges of toothpicks and gumdrops, and making oobleck, a squishy substance made from cornstarch, water and food coloring.

“Research has shown that women … need to have female role models to be able to envision themselves in a job,” said Diana Schwerha, an OU professor of industrial and systems engineering and faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers. “By coming here and seeing female students doing things, it gives (the girls) that sense of a role model they can step into.”

Females are often underrepresented within the world of engineering. Singley’s mechanical engineering graduating class has about five women out of about 70 students.

“Unfortunately some things that (girls) see in the media don’t portray women in strong positions in those (STEM) fields,” said Jean Thuma, a biorepository coordinator and technician at OU and the service unit administrator for Girl Scouts in the Athens area.

The relationship between the Society of Women Engineers and the local Girl Scout troops has continued for approximately 15 years, Thuma said.

“I hope the girls learn that math isn’t just for the brainy people,” Thuma said. “I really like this program.”


This article appeared it print under the headline "Scouts become engineers for a day"

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