Girls Who STEAM Club Created Racetracks!

Contributed By Tori Cameron

The Gordon W. Mitchell School held its first ever Girls Who STEAM Club over the fall and winter of 2019-2020. One of the goals of the club was to empower young girls and help them build confidence in themselves. Over the several months that the club was running, I sought out opportunities to expose the girls to a variety of activities, STEAM careers, and strong female role models. When I found the No Limits Grant online, I knew it would be the perfect fit for our club. Our club’s cheer, inspired by Beyonce, was “Who runs the world?” “Girls!” and Ewy was the perfect role model for the girls to learn about. Group of girls standing around table with carboard boxes and paper on top

The girls were so excited when I announced that the club had been chosen to receive the No Limits grant and they couldn’t wait to hold their own car. When we received the cars in the mail, the girls helped me unbox all of the cars and the girls’ energy and excitement was high. They couldn’t wait to learn about Ewy and learn about why the car was so special.

We watched the videos highlighting Ewy Rosqvist and discussed her incredible bravery and accomplishments. The girls loved talking about how Ewy was confident in her driving skills and entered the race. While watching the videos, the girls cheered when Ewy won the race! After watching the video, we discussed the importance of following your dreams and how girls can do anything they put their minds to. We also discussed gender stereotypes. We talked about how there is no such thing as boys toys and girls toys. Many of the girls expressed that their favorite toys were their “brothers’ toys” and sometimes were worried about how they would be perceived if they wanted to play with LEGO and cars. We talked about how toy-stores will sometimes separate the toys in sections but that it shouldn’t deter the girls from exploring toys from any of the aisles. Many of the girls expressed that they wished stores wouldn’t differentiate between sections of toys. We also talked about the materials that I have in the STEAM Lab, how all students are encouraged to use any type of material or toy, no matter the color or use. We finished the discussion with talking about other strong female role models and how we can learn about more women who are doing amazing things.

After we watched the video and discussed Ewy’s accomplishments, we began making our race tracks. The girls were allowed to create whatever type of course they wanted. Some chose to make an obstacle course, others wanted to make a downhill slope, some added flags and decorations, others added jumps. They were so enthusiastic and loved three girls building with cardboardbuilding. We used cardboard, recycling products, hot glue, and craft supplies. The girls used the engineering design process to help brainstorm ideas for their race tracks and made sure to test out their track and make improvements throughout the entire process. While the girls were planning and building, we discussed how different types of angles would work differently for hills and jumps. Some of the girls realized that steeper hills made the cars fall, and taller jumps made the cars fly higher. The girls also experimented with the materials, and found which materials worked best for the different parts of the track. For example one of the groups realized that using felt at the finish line was perfect because it would slow the cars down. Another example is when one of the groups remembered we had extra fabric left over from sewing scrunchies, and the checkered fabric made terrific race flags. We explored the different combinations of materials and objects and the girls chose which type worked best for their race tracks.

On the final day, the girls raced their cars on the tracks and explored each other’s creations. They cheered each other on, and had a blast showing off their work. We even invited the local community access media team- EB-CAM, and the local newspaper- The Brockton Enterprise, into the last class so that the girls could show the entire community what they created. I wanted to give them every opportunity to show the community just how creative and amazing the girls were. The girls loved being interviewed by the media outlets. In their interviews, they discussed their race tracks, the Girls Who STEAM Club, and Ewy’s bravery. Many of the girls expressed how they did not want the club to be over and wished it could run all year.  On that day, many of the parents came early to pick up, so they could see the race tracks in action. group of girls

We had so much fun learning about Ewy. We have extra cars and I will be using them again for next year’s Girls Who STEAM club, and for some of our summer camps. Thank you so much for helping me bring creative, thoughtful and empowering lessons to the Gordon W. Mitchell School Girls Who STEAM Club.

 

Tori Cameron is a STEAM Teacher at Gordon W. Mitchell School in East Bridgewater, MA. She also hosts after school clubs and activities, including Girls Who STEAM Club, as well as many weeks of summer camp. She is the author of Awesome Brain Games for Kids: STEAM Puzzles and Facts for Curious Minds, and hosts a popular podcast called STEAM Up the Classroom.

NGCP's partnership with Mercedes-Benz USA is tackling the issue of gender stereotypes and showing young girls they can aspire to be and do anything they desire. #GirlsHaveNoLimits. Via NGCP mini-grants, thousands of girls have been gifted a die-cast Matchbox replica of the Mercedes-Benz 220SE commemorating Ewy Rosqvist's historic 1962 Argentinian Grand Prix performance. Learn more about this initiative.