UT Hosts Fifteenth Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day
On February 27, the University of Texas at Austin hosts its 15th annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, part of Engineers Week. Hosted by the Women in Engineering Program (WEP) at UT, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day gives elementary- and middle school-aged girls the opportunity to encounter engineering and other STEM fields in an engaging, hand-on space.
Kicking off the festivities this year will be the Science Cheerleaders, a group of former college and NFL cheerleaders who also have science-related careers. From there, participants can head over to the buildings housing demonstrations and activities appropriate for their age groups and start exploring and learning.
Tricia Berry, head of WEP, says that this year, the organizers are anticipating more than double the amount of attendees and volunteers, with more than 7,000 registered attendees already signed up. The activities and demonstrations will be led by 1,400 volunteers from the 145 participating organizations, which include UTeach Outreach, Girlstart, Google, Thinkery, Space Center Houston, and iFly.
Among those is the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, which will be leading girls in constructing Bunny Copters. Lolis Garcia-Baab, GSCTX Director of Marketing and Communications, says of the Girl Scouts’ role in Girl Day, “Girl Scouts is all about encouraging girls to have big dreams knowing they will be given the tools to help them reach those dreams. STEM fields may attract girls, but research shows that they are frequently not given access to the education that will lead them into those careers.”
STEM fields are clearly a huge part of the future workforce. Whether they are interested in robotics, computer technology, or how to solve a community problem through science, our girls are given the tools and the education to set goals, create a plan, and take action, in order to start down the road to future success no matter what field of STEM they decide to go into. Girl Scouts understands what our girls need to be successful in the 21st century, and STEM education is a big part of that. — Lolis Garcia-Babb, Girl Scouts of Central Texas
This year’s event will be the biggest yet, as a new partnership with Google has allowed for a STEM festival to accompany Girl Day, which has expanded girls’ opportunities to experience a broader array of activities and demonstrations. “Because we added on the STEM festival, we have all of these science groups that want to be a part of this event,” says Berry. “The primate lab on campus will do an activity that will help kids understand what primates eat. There are coyote skulls coming from Texas Memorial Museum. There will be astronomy activities. There will be a ton of coding-related/computer science-related activities.”
According to Berry, Girl Day at UT has two main objectives: “One is to give girls the hands-on experience of STEM in an environment that is full of girls and full of engineering and science role models,” she says. “The other piece is to give our current students and the community a way to give back, and to showcase and get them excited about what they are doing here in school and retain them through graduation.”
Among those current students are 26 undergraduates from UTeach Outreach courses, who will be guiding attendees in a series of hands-on activities called “Build Your Own ToolBox with UTeach.” Each student will receive a small engineering toolbox into which they will place “engineering artifacts.”
Our goal is to not only "introduce a girl to engineering" but to also to the wonderful opportunities UT has to offer, with one of them being the UTeach program,” says Etzel Garcia, the UTeach intern leading the activities. “We will have a UT PREP summer camp station set up and will be encouraging parents to register their children for our six-week academic enrichment program, where students will get the opportunity to explore through the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Families attending the event will receive a discount code equal to a $500 scholarship if they register by March 1.
“Personally, I couldn't have asked for a better job experience as a future teacher,” says Garcia. “The drive and motivation that UTeach has to make an impact is what I hope to bring to students one day too.”