Milwee Girls Race Fast and Finish First

Contributed by Carol Unterreiner

Milwee Middle School Girl’s Engineering Breakfast Club Raced fast to finish first at our last breakfast club meeting.  There are approximately 50 Milwee girls who attend our meetings each month.    We started our Girl’s Engineering Breakfast club originally to show girls they can do anything they want with their future.  When I first started teaching Engineering, I had 2 or 3 girls in a class of 32 students.  I decided I needed to make that change.  Each month we have female engineer guest speakers come each month and share with the girls their path and why it is important to follow your dreams.  When we started our club we had 10 girls who have now moved on in their lives and are in college or high school.  Most of those girls are pursing a STEM filed career. 
When the girls arrived for our January meeting they were greeted and told they could grab a seat at a table.  Each table was set with six seats and six of the race cars.  When all the girls arrived, I asked them about matchbox cars and if they played with them or not.  Several of the girls were just like me when I was a kid; they had their own car Three girls sitting at a table. There are 6 matchbox cars on the tablecollection already and this one was cool.   I had them watch the #GirlsHaveNoLimit video showing the young girls who wouldn’t pick the cars.  We then had a great discussion about why the girls didn’t pick the cars.  Most of the girls agreed that they too might not have picked the cars.  We had a why not discussion and then I told them they could pick up the cars and study the packaging on the car. They were all super excited.  I talked about my childhood matchbox collection and why the cars are so cool.  We then watched the video of Ewy Rosquist winning the race and had a great discussion on why she was such an amazing role model for women.  We also talked about the type of car she drove and why different races ran different cars.  Then we talked about what other equipment she needed to be a successful race driver.  Each year we do a shoe design contest that the girls look forward to.  So, after talking about the equipment that is needed while driving a race we talked about shoes needed to drive race cars and what special qualities those shoes would have that would be different than other shoes.  The girls talked about the science behind shoes and how the driver would need them to be fireproof and comfortable and allow them to feel the peddle so they would know what they were doing.  How the shoes would be more like a wrestling shoe than a tennis shoe and why.  I then handed out the “Design a Race Car Shoe” challenge and we discussed what supplies they would need and that they would have two months to design and build the shoes.  They started discussing their ideas while eating breakfast.  The girls were all super impressed with the cars and shared the story when we had our SWEnext event with the high school girls.  They also shared the story and Group of girls in a classroom facing a white board. There is an image of a young girl holding a doll projected on the boardsome of the cars with the girls who will be our incoming 6th graders next year.  This story has really inspired our girls.  Our girls have been sharing the videos and the cars with everyone we meet.

One of my favorite stories is that of an incoming 6th grader.  She had come on a tour of Milwee with her mom and I shared with the girls about the grant and the cars and the breakfast club.  She made her mom find me and I sent a car to her via my daughter as her mom teaches at my daughter’s high school.  When the little girl came to curriculum night to do her schedule she brought her car with her and ran up to the girls engineering breakfast table to talk with my girls and share car stories,

Finally, I have done two events where I have given a presentation about recruiting and retaining girls.  I shared the #nolimits links and videos with our participants.  The participants were also very talkative and wanted to discuss how to fight these stereotypes and what they try to do in their classrooms to help alleviate them.  One of the events was the Florida Engineering Educators Conference at the University of Central Florida and the other was the ITEEA STEM showcase at the ITEEA conference in Baltimore Maryland.  I felt the need to share this amazing collaboration and story with as many teachers as I could.
Carol Unterreiner is a middle school engineering teacher at Milwee Middle School in Longwood Florida. She is the Department chair of the electives department and is the sponsor for the girls engineering breakfast club, BETA club, TSA and SECME groups.  She is a big advocate for sharing as many real life experiences and competition opportunities as possible with her students.
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.