Fran, a Corning employee, opened a two-inch binder brimming with a categorized collection of past years’ Girl Scout STEM events and excitedly began describing the most recent program she organized in April at Corning’s Headquarters.
While talking, she often referred to a pile of spreadsheets printed on larger-than-average-sized paper placed beside the binder on her desk as well as to the several PowerPoint presentations—full of pictures— she had open on desktop behind her.
Because it is her fourth year as chair of the annual event, Fran has lots of experience working with young girls considering STEM careers. Thirty years as an engineer at Corning, 10 years a Girl Scout and 20 as a scout troop leader help, too.
“This event combines two of my lifelong passions,” she said, explaining the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways partner with the Twin Tier’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). “It’s the perfect marriage for me to organize it.”
After inviting more than 50 scouts from 16 troops in nine counties, Fran began planning workshops—different each year—and breaking the participants into two age groups, while at the same time finding at least 20 volunteers to run the workshops and panels.
“The event connects girls with role models,” said Fran, adding women lead all the day’s events.
For scouts in fourth and fifth grade, the program featured four 30-minute hands-on activities: building and testing marble roller coasters, exploring the benefits of assembly-line manufacturing with mini Lego cars, learning how aggregates provide strength to asphalt by making a cookie road and disassembling a digital alarm clock to learn how it works in a multi-disciplined reverse engineering activity.
Scouts in grades 6-12 participated in two 60-minute activities. In a chemistry activity, the girls separated water ions using a battery and tested the PH of resulting compounds. They also programmed an EV3 robot in a hands-on robotics activity.
“Giving the girls experiences that they may not otherwise encounter may encourage some to take up the challenge to enter a male-dominated field and someday level the playing field for women,” said Irene, an employee who led the robotics activity.