For the past 6 years American Society of Civil Engineers Los Angeles Younger Member Forum (ASCE LA YMF) has hosted events in honor of National Engineers Week. This year was the best year yet! Approximately 150 girls from grades 6th through 12th participated in this year’s Engineers Week - Girl Day at LA Metro Headquarters on February 22, 2019.
Months of planning and preparation in the form of school visits, activity testing, and logistics coordination had to occur before the event could even take place and were led by Senior Staff Engineer Shari Schwartzer from Langan. In those pre-event meetings ASCE volunteers made sure that the activities would be fun and educational for all the girls involved. Spoiler alert: They were! We had 5 programs and schools participate including Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS) program, DIY Girls, Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS), and Lincoln Middle School.
Monica Morales (2019 Engineers Week Chair of JACOBS) introduced the technical speaker for the event, NASA JPL engineer Luz Maria Martinez Sierra. After the presentation a Q&A with Luz Maria allowed the girls to ask all kinds of questions about space, her projects, and engineering. The quality of the questions in the Q&A portion really showcased how eager the girls were to learn about STEM careers.
Volunteers then guided students to four different rooms where hands-on engineering activities occurred for the next two hours. Activities included using chemistry to make magnetic slime, a paper structure competition with the tallest and most weight being held by the winning structure, and wind car racing. All of the activities were fun. The girls improved upon our magnetic slime recipe, creating unique structures, and had a blast racing the cars built from paper, straws, and candy.
After the activities the girls were led back to the board room where they heard from the City Engineer Gary Lee Moore and the winners of the Girl Day Essay Contest were announced by Monica Morales. The winners of the contest include three students from Lincoln Middle School with 1st Place to 8th grade student Simona Trentchev, 2nd Place to 7th grade student Emma Howard, and 3rd Place to 6th grade student Bella Brito. Congratulations on your scholarship prize awards for your essays on creating a sustainable Los Angeles!
During the scholarship presentation we had a special visit from Mayor Eric Garcetti. He discussed the importance of engineering and in increasing the number of women involved in STEM. The winners of the paper building and wind car activities had the opportunity to present their designs to the mayor and the audience of their peers. The mayor also took the time to recognize Monica Morales and Shari Schwartzer for their efforts in K-12 outreach and in promoting STEM.
This event would not have been possible without the wonderful volunteers. We had over 20 volunteers helping plan, set up, lead activities, and clean up among other tasks. A special thank you to Jacobs for being our Girl Day sponsor, Langan Engineering & Environmental Services for supporting me while I planned the event, and LA Metro for the help of their incredible staff and for hosting.