On Saturday, May 2nd, over 150 young girls gathered at the University of Ottawa campus to participate in Girl Guide Engineering Day.
Ranging in age from 5 to 11, girls from 20 different Spark, Brownie, and Girl Guide units in the National Capital Region participated in various workshops, including aerospace, electricity, forces, gears & pulleys, and lights & colours. During the day, each group participated in three different workshops. And by the end of the day, the Girl Guides received their Engineering Badge.
The event was organized by the Faculty of Engineering’s Adventures in Engineering and Science team and took place on the University of Ottawa campus. At the beginning of the day, workshop facilitators explained the difference between an engineer and a scientist, and discussed the different types of engineering programs offered at uOttawa. “The ultimate goal with an event like this is to expose young girls to engineering and to show them that it’s an interesting field of study that’s open to them. My hope is that in the long-term these types of early experiences will help address the underrepresentation of women in engineering,” said Pam Lee-Shanok, Outreach Program Coordinator of Adventures in Engineering and Science.
A brand new workshop called Codemakers Programming was also delivered on Saturday. Through play, the girls discovered the basics of programming and then applied those principles to design their very own computer game. Using a computer or iPad mini, the girls created their own characters and modified elements like the game background and music. They also controlled the movement and actions of their characters. This workshop allowed them to create their own unique computer game all while learning the logical sequence of programming.
Lee-Shanok also commented on the energy of the participants. “It was great to see the girls excited to learn about engineering through hands-on activities. Throughout the day, the participants were really engaged and seemed to have lots of fun exploring engineering and technology.”
Andrea Drajewicz, a leader of the 26th Orleans Girl Guide Unit, also added: “The fastest growing occupations rely on mastery of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] subjects, and yet STEM careers are often male-dominated… Girls and women are often reluctant to believe that STEM is interesting or that it is something they can master and enjoy mastering, especially given the lack of female role models in STEM... From an economic perspective, people with STEM degrees earn higher wages and are less likely to lose their job, whether or not they work in STEM fields. And encouraging girls (and the women who mentor them) to become more STEM literate, more curious about how the world around them functions, and more economically stable [is] a great thing.”
The Badge Day initiative was started by the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering, also known as ONWiE, whose goal is to work collaboratively to support female engineering students as well as encourage the next generation of women to pursue this exciting career path.
To learn more about Adventures in Engineering and Science or register for a workshop or summer camp, visit our website.