The WOW! That’s Engineering Event was held on Saturday April 21, 2012 for 100 girls in grades 5-8th enrolled in the reduced lunch program at school or who attended a school with 50% or more students on the reduced lunch program.

This year’s event was sponsored by Normandale Community College, Xcel Energy, Goodrich and a SWE PD grant provided by ExxonMobil.

The experience began with 9:30am registration at Normandale Community College, included an opening session, engineering discussion panel, and hands-on activities, concluding at 3:30pm.

The activities area was centralized in Normandale’s newly renovated student center, which provided an invigorating and comfortable learn/play environment. Transportation was provided for the groups and lunch was provided for the girls, adults, and volunteers.

Here’s what we heard from volunteers:
“Enjoyed working with the girls,”
“Had an overall fun time at the event,”
“would volunteer again,”
“gained a valuable experience,”

Here’s what we heard from the attendees:
“Really FUN!”
“More fun than I expected,”
“I’m glad I got all this cool stuff,”
“I didn’t know what an engineer was before, but now I do."

The experiments executed during this event were:

Lip Balm & Lip Glass allowed the girls to see first-hand how you can mix ingredients of individual properties to produce a new and different final product. By creating two products in one session, they were able to compare and contrast similar consumer products. The take home was functional and fun, and the sessions sparked a lot of discussion about product needs and process considerations.

Night & Day is an Agilent kit where students explore the occurrence of night and day along with changes in day light as a result of changes in the seasons. This was related into engineering through discussion of how models are used in a variety of different engineering disciplines and brainstorming model uses in everyday life.

Cotton Ball Catapult is an engineering design activity where students build a catapult primarily from a spoon and rubber bands. After the initial build, students are given the opportunity to redesign their catapult to optimize for distance and then accuracy. Trial and error is accelerated through competition.

Brush Bots are simple robots made of pager motors and toothbrush bristles. The bot kits are assembled and raced. They gave the girls a brief introduction to mechanical systems and robotics. In the future, we hope to expand from the basic kit to include design challenges.

THANKS SO MUCH to all of our volunteers! Wow! is a significant undertaking which cannot be completed without a real community effort. Thanks for everyone who was involved in the preparation and planning and to everyone who joined us on the day of the activity.