Posted by: COSI | November 8, 2008

Girl Power

Posted by Kim Kiehl

What do you get when you mix almost three hundred middle school girls, a group of professional women engineers, and a group of excited female engineering college students? You get an amazing day of fun and learning, that’s what! Last weekend, I had the pleasure of spending the day here at COSI with our Girls Discover Engineering! program.  In its fourth year, this program brings girls together with role models who help them see that engineering is anything but a boring profession.

Girls Discover...Engineering!We had girls here from 68 different zip codes.  Nineteen percent of them qualified for and received scholarships for the day. 80% were new to the program. There was nearly equal representation of 6th, 7th, and 8thgrades. It was an amazing mix of young women from many walks of life. I was thrilled to see girls working side by side with the college mentors to solve problems. I was excited to see their faces when they left their sessions with the female engineers—including a stay-at-home mom who left an engineering position to be with her kids, engineers from City Government, research engineers, as well as those in aviation, automotive safety, transportation, and land development. These professional women had just done activities with them while helping them learn more about the profession, and had clearly hit their mark.

Girls Discover Engineering, November 1, 2008 028I was moved by the passion of the almost 40 parents and teachers who spent the day here learning how to better support their girls and how to encourage them to hang in there and pursue a career that, let’s face it, is not exactly dominated by women.  I was inspired by the three young women who are OSU students. They talked about being the only girl in their classes, about how great it was to be a smart girl, and about how dedicated they are to their chosen major.

This is the kind of programming we do so well here at COSI; programming that is personal and helps students make a connection with a real person, doing real work. While many of you may only think about COSI in terms of our building and our exhibits, we have many programs that help make these connections. In addition, we help make these connections in ways that are engaging and fun for both the students and the adults. It is these connections that inspire our children to want to find out more and that help them see the possibilities for their own lives. It is the stories, like those told by our keynote speaker, Cynthia Gray, an Imagineer from Disney, that speak to the minds and the hearts of our daughters, helping each one imagine more for her own life. COSI is a place where she can explore, question, nurture her curiosity, discover new ideas and think like a scientist. The day was full of fun, but underneath all that fun there was so much more going on. Last Saturday we were a place that was shaping the aspirations of the next generation of girls so that ultimately we can all live in a better world. I’m here to tell you that if these girls are the future of our country I am feeling pretty good about where we are headed.

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