On this International Day of Women in Engineering, let's honor the achievements and contributions of women in the field of engineering. Let’s use this day to inspire and empower the next generation of female engineers. We can cultivate interest and curiosity in our students through interactive learning activities that incorporate technology and the engineering design process.
Engineering education is important for girls and young women because it equips them with valuable skills and opens doors to diverse opportunities. Girls can develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity skills while exploring their curiosity about how things work. Engineering education also empowers girls to become confident and capable individuals, preparing them for a variety of exciting careers that they may not have thought previously attainable. By encouraging girls to pursue their passions and contribute their unique perspectives to engineering-related concepts and designs, they help to nurture a more inclusive and innovative world.
Here are just a few ways to start girls on the road to a future in engineering.
Showcase famous female engineers.
Foster collaboration skills by assigning student groups to create interactive presentations using Google Slides or LYNX, highlighting the accomplishments and impact of notable women in diverse engineering disciplines. This engaging activity encourages students to explore the contributions of these exceptional engineers and promotes a deeper understanding of the possibilities within the field of engineering. Highlight pioneers like:
- Ada Lovelace, a pioneering mathematician and writer, collaborated with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine. Recognized as the world's first computer programmer, her algorithm for the Engine laid the groundwork for modern computing and algorithmic thinking. Her legacy continues to shape the field of technology.
- Emily Warren Roebling, an outstanding civil engineer, made vital contributions to the construction of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Assuming the role of chief engineer after her husband became ill, she displayed remarkable knowledge and determination in managing the project's complexities. Emily's exceptional engineering prowess and leadership were instrumental in the bridge's successful completion, defying gender stereotypes in a male-dominated field.
- Hedy Lamarr, an actress and inventor, co-developed frequency-hopping spread spectrum during World War II. This groundbreaking technology, created with composer George Antheil, aimed to protect torpedoes from jamming. While not immediately utilized, her invention laid the foundation for modern wireless systems like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, highlighting the fusion of creativity and scientific innovation in her engineering contributions.
- Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus, renowned as the "Queen of Carbon Science," was a distinguished physicist and electrical engineer. Her groundbreaking research centered around carbon-based materials such as nanotubes and graphene, propelling advancements in renewable energy and nanotechnology fields. Her contributions have been invaluable to scientific progress in these areas.
- Dr. Mae Jemison made history as the first African American woman to venture into space. In addition to being an astronaut, she is a physician and engineer. Her fervor for science and engineering serves as an inspiration to many young girls, encouraging them to pursue STEM fields and fostering diversity and inclusivity in the realm of space exploration.
- Dr. Gwynne Shotwell, serving as President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, holds a crucial position in the aerospace industry. Her exceptional leadership and engineering prowess have been instrumental in the triumph of SpaceX missions and the groundbreaking advancement of reusable rocket technology, revolutionizing the field of space exploration.
- Vanessa Galvez, a young civil engineer in Queens, NY, helps develop urban infrastructure focused on sustainability. At only 26, she oversaw the implementation of bioswales in Maspeth, Queens. These areas help manage storm water and prevent flooding in cities while also creating beautiful greenery to the landscape, which is good for urban ecosystems.
Bring engineering concepts to life using hands-on projects and experiments.
Captivate students by showcasing dynamic simulations and virtual experiments that vividly illustrate engineering principles. For example, MyStemKits offers a number of kits that require interactive, hands-on engagement.
- The Bridge Engineering Kit guides students to test the resilience of six different bridges and observe how different designs handle stress.
- Students can also explore electrical circuits with the Circuit Diagram Kit and the Circuit Lab Kit which focus on designing, planning, and observing circuits.
- With the Ball Bearing Catapult Kit, students can explore concepts of force, energy, and trajectory as they design, modify, and launch their catapults to hit targets or achieve maximum distance.
MyStemKits is home to dozens of STEAM design challenges that encourage students to 3D model solutions to a wide range of challenges, from optimizing ships to creating rocket parts. These challenges empower students to unleash their creativity using user-friendly software like Tinkercad. Once they finish their design, they get to 3D print it on their Robo 3D printer and watch their creation come to life. After it’s printed, they must test it out, and then start all over to iterate on their creation to improve its efficacy, cost, or printability.
Robotics presents an exciting avenue for exploration.
Engage students in hands-on activities where they can program robots such as the MyBot Recruit (MimioSTEM by Boxlight). Encourage them to tackle real-world challenges by programming their robots to complete specific tasks. Through these experiences, students enhance their engineering skills while fostering creativity and honing their problem-solving abilities.
Coding can unleash creativity and problem-solving skills in students. Engage them in designing and programming virtual mazes using block-based platforms or coding robots. Students can create challenging mazes with obstacles, pathways, and characters, and use their coding skills to navigate through the maze. This activity fosters computational thinking and empowers students to become creators in the digital world.
On this International Day of Women in Engineering, let's celebrate the achievements of women engineers and empower our students to become the engineers of tomorrow. By incorporating interactive learning activities, we can ignite a passion for engineering and pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive future in the field.
For more resources on STEM education, including those specific to girls and women, click here: Big Guide to STEM Education.
To explore STEM education solutions that engage students, click here: MimioSTEM.