Michigan Tech News

Middle School Girls Get WISE at Michigan Tech

Last Modified 1:57 PM on Wed Mar 17, 2010

906-487-3497, 

By Kara Sokol

February 17, 2010—

Local middle school girls spent the day exploring the excitement of science and engineering fields at Michigan Technological University, during the annual Get WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) program this Thursday. 

The event, coordinated each year by the University’s Youth Programs office, brings more than 250 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from 15 local schools to campus for a day of hands-on activities, talks with female role models, and more. The day’s doings are meant to stir interest in science and engineering.

“Engineering isn’t all about building roads and cars,” said Kristi Isaacson, Youth Programs associate coordinator, who worked to plan this year’s event. “This program helps girls learn about engineering in a completely new way, allowing them to see the different options available.”

The theme of this year’s event was “Get Moving with Get WISE.” Participants had the chance to become “toy engineers” by designing and creating their own toys that motivate kids to be active. They started with a foam body and a table full of craft supplies. Their challenge was to build a toy that could fly. They came up with everything from football vortexes to planes and birds. 

"The girls turned into engineers right before our eyes," Isaacson said. "It was amazing to see them go through the design process and come up with such different final products. 

The event included lunch, a keynote talk by Seth Donahue, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and discussions with three successful women working in STEM fields—Wendy Ratza, a mechanical design specialist with GE Aviation Systems; Linda Hansen, a project engineer with AECOM; and Michelle Bakkila, project manager for Weston Solutions of Michigan Inc. 

I’ve always liked science, but this is a big improvement; we get to do more than just reading books,” remarked one of the participants, Lanna Pirkola, a seventh grader from Washington Middle School. “It's definitely more fun than when I’m just in school."

Each of the 270 participants received a certificate for attending the event on National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. 

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Original URL: http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2010/february/story23298.html