CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Girls and science haven’t always been a natural match. However, Bridgemont Community and Technical College wants to change that.
Thursday the school invited 200 8th grade girls from the southern half of West Virginia to take part in ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.’ The event was held at Columbia Natural Gas in Charleston.
Melissa Thompson, a civil engineering associate professor at Bridgemont, helped organize the event. She stressed women are still the minority when it comes to careers in math and science. ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ is way get young females thinking about their future and if they’re interested in going into the field.
“We’re trying to inspire girls that they can go into these fields and have wonderful careers that are very rewarding and that can keep them in West Virginia,” she said.
Thompson explained women have sought after qualities the male-dominated engineering field needs.
“They’re using their minds to do problem solving and team building and all the things women are very good at.”
Thompson said they reach out to the girls in 8th grade just before they enter high school. That’s when they’re exploring who they might want to be and what classes they need to take in high school to get there.
Bridgemont recruited engineers from different fields from around the area to come talk with the girls about what they do and how they got interested in science.
“We’re doing kind of speed dating, engineer-style. [The girls] have questions to ask and the [engineers] will be moving from table to table. We let them stay with the [engineer] for a while and then we call time and the engineers will switch to a different table,” explained Thompson.
The girls were also challenged with a roller coaster test. Each table was given the same set of materials to create their own roller coaster. They had to come up with a design and then put it into practice.
Thompson said they want girls to understand science is “cool” and a great career path.