Clarkson University’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) recently hosted an evening of STEM activities for nearly 30 Girl Scouts, primarily fourth and fifth graders, who belong to troops from Upstate New York.
The Clarkson University Science Center was abuzz on the evening of March 6, with lots of young girls, laughter, and fun. Although less apparent amidst the pizza and fun, the Girl Scouts were also learning about science, technology, math, and engineering.
The Girl Scouts’ Science and Engineering Night has been taking place every year for nearly 25 years! It continues to be a popular attraction for the Scouts, as well as a gratifying and fun service activity for the Clarkson students who organize and run the event. The event started in the early 1990s under the direction of Ruth Baltus, the faculty advisor of SWE at the time, and Sheila Cerwonka, who forged the relationship on behalf of the Scouting organization. In the beginning, upwards of 100 local Girl Scouts would come to Clarkson for an evening of engineering activities followed by swimming and a sleepover. Although the event has scaled back, it continues to draw a respectable number of girls, who earn a science patch for their attendance.
This year, the girls were split into two groups; one group worked towards the Think Like an Engineer Journey, while the other group worked towards the Coding Basics Badge. The Think Like an Engineer Journey taught the girls about the engineering design process. The girls learned that engineering is all around us, from cooking to great architecture and design. We emphasized that engineering is something they are more than capable of doing. While that group was working toward their Journey, the other group was learning the basics of coding. These girls learned about the process of creating algorithms and writing commands for a computer program.
This year’s event was organized by a committee of SWE officers led by Carolyne Shultes, with help from 24 SWE volunteers. Additionally, this year’s evening was sponsored by the Clarkson Provost, Clarkson’s School of Engineering, Clarkson’s STEM Institute, and Clarkson’s School of Arts and Sciences. Clarkson’s SWE student section meets bi-weekly and hosts a variety of events, including everything from professional development to pure fun. Membership is open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as all majors and genders. If you’d like more information, contact SWE@clarkson.edu.