March 7, 2018
By: Rhiannon Davidson
Currently, women hold only 24% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-related jobs1. To help balance these areas, the MSU chapter of AIChE holds an annual Girl Scouts Engineering Day. AIChE hopes that by exploring various STEM disciplines, young girls will be encouraged to pursue STEM-related degrees in the future.
On January 27, 2018, seventy-five Girl Scouts of all ages attended AIChE’s annual Girl Scouts Engineering Day. Thirty-three AIChE members and four of Dr. Rai’s and Dr. Kundu’s graduate students volunteered to teach the Girl Scouts. After dividing the girls into groups based on their age, the volunteers showed the Girl Scouts that science and engineering can be fun and interesting.
One activity the Girl Scouts participated in was making cornstarch goop. In doing so, the Girl Scouts learned about the differences between Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids. They also participated in a strawberry DNA activity where they observed DNA strand formation. Afterwards, the Girl Scouts observed a molecular modeling demonstration and a snow polymer demonstration, both taught by graduate students.
In the molecular modeling demonstration, volunteers used computer software to show molecular models to the Girl Scouts, and they performed an oil, water, and heating element experiment; in this experiment, the girls learned why water moves from a liquid to a gaseous phase as well as why oil and water do not mix well. In the snow polymer demonstration, the girls learned about snow’s absorbent properties and various uses. One of the final activities the Girl Scouts participated in was a Lego NXT robotics lab where the girls built and programmed Lego robots. Before the Girl Scouts Engineering Day was over, the scouts had a chance to take a tour of the Unit Operations Laboratory where they learned about pressure gauges, pipes, pumps, and proper lab safety.
As the fun-filled day of learning approached its end, the Girl Scouts said their goodbyes and expressed their desire to attend the next Girl Scouts Engineering Day.