Last month, members from the Women in Engineering Canberra Committee took part in the Greenlight 4 Girls (G4G) Day held at the ANU. G4G aims to get primary and high school aged girls excited about STEM subjects and inspire them to pursue STEM careers – also a goal for the Women in Engineering Committee Canberra (WIECC).
We were excited to take part in the day and put together a Straw Tower challenge, where small groups of the girls designed and built towers from straws and tape that had to be a minimum of 30 cm high. The goal was to keep the towers light but they needed to be strong and were tested with weight plates - the tower with the highest load to mass ratio would win the challenge.
Without initially realising it, the girls were faced with a real-life engineering problem. They had a project brief, they had a deadline and they had to work as a team to come up with a design that would balance the need to use minimal resources (which would have economic benefits and promote sustainability in the real world) that was structurally sound.
It was fascinating to watch the strategies of the different groups. Some groups got straight into, discussing as they went. Some spent a good 10 minutes sketching and planning what their towers were going to look like. Some project managers emerged, delegating tasks and promoting effective production lines.
When it came to the judging the girls waited anxiously and excitedly to see how their final product performed. There were some disappointments, there always are in the real world – this is how we learn, but all in all the towers the girls produced were amazing. I did the challenge myself a week before the event and I can honestly say my design paled compared the creative designs the girls came up with.
The day was a great success, the WIECC look forward to participating again next year and hope to inspire more girls to considering an engineering career for the future.
Written by: Alexandra Radulovich, Douglas Partners Pty Ltd.