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Planes, Putty and Physics

Young women to experience hands-on engineering at Feb. 27 career workshop

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February 24, 2010 | by Megan Fellman
Students participating in Northwestern’s Career Day for Girls get started on a design project.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- More than 300 Chicago-area middle school and high school girls will perform hands-on experiments and tour Evanston campus laboratories Saturday, Feb. 27, during Northwestern University’s 39th annual Career Day for Girls.

The career workshop, designed to encourage young women to consider engineering in their education and career choices, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road. (Registration for the program is closed as it has reached capacity.)

Career Day has been held at Northwestern annually since 1970, when only 4 percent of the students in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science were women. Today, nearly one-third of McCormick students are women.
   
Krystle Nagle, an optimization engineer at BP, will kick off the program with a keynote address from 9:10 to 9:45 a.m. in the Technological Institute’s Ryan Family Auditorium.
   
An engineering design competition, laboratory tours, hands-on experiments, a goal-setting workshop focusing on different engineering majors, and separate panel discussions for students and parents will follow. Throughout the day, young women will have an opportunity to meet current women engineering students, faculty and alumnae.
   
In the design competition, teams of five will use rubber bands, index cards, washers, paper cups, paper clips and tape to build a prototype of a self-propelled airplane and then “fly” it down a zipline.

Students participating in lab tours from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will observe bacteria from everyday life using microscopes; participate in a hands-on demo of how rivers cause erosion; learn how strength and toughness are measured and how metals “remember” their original shape when they are heated or cooled; and view demonstrations of chemistry’s explosions and wonders and a spinning bicycle wheel that defies gravity.

In hands-on afternoon sessions, from 1:15 to 3 p.m., high school students will create an electronic dance pad using various materials while middle school students will rotate through four different activities, one of which is to create silly putty. Theses activities will expose students to various aspects of materials science and civil and mechanical engineering.

The outreach program is sponsored by the McCormick School and Northwestern’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
Topics: Campus Life