MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Society of Women Engineers held a ‘Girls’ STEM Day’ in the engineering building on Saturday.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, all of which were at the forefront of everything dozens of girls participated in. Girls in kindergarten to fifth grade learned about robotics, cleaning up oil spills, building wind turbines, and building a fashion assembly line. They learned all of this from WVU students studying STEM.
In one of the fashion assembly line sections, Abby Baker and Annabella Kuehn, both freshmen studying industrial engineering, taught participants about how an assembly line makes production more efficient and therefore, more sustainable. The theme of the day was “sustainability/green living”. Both Baker and Kuehn said their goal was to inspire the girls to pursue careers in STEM and to teach them that there is room for women in the field.
“Me knowing that there are other girls going through the exact same thing and sticking together in this male-dominated field and everything, it’s just refreshing,” Kuehn said. “And knowing that these girls when they walk in here go wow ‘I just did engineering, I’m an engineer right now’. Even these simple processes of making pants and everything, it’s nice having people and knowing that they’re with you too.”
Baker and Kuehn said the girls were excited to take part in their activity, which initially had them make a pair of paper pants by themselves and then work together to demonstrate the efficiency of an assembly line. This learning experience, Baker said, was important in shaping their aspirations and perspectives.
“I think that it was really important to take part in girl STEM Day because as a female in STEM I think it’s really important to outreach to younger students and get them more involved and interested because I remember when I was in school, no one ever had any sorts of these events so I think it’s awesome to get younger kids involved and make sure that may go into engineering in the future,” Baker said.
Kuehn, who is a Morgantown native, said she had been visiting the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources since she was a kid. She said she even worked there at some point, before attending WVU, and that she learned about many of the different things she was now teaching to the next generation.
“It kind of inspired me back then,” Kuehn said. “Being able to do some of the projects back then and put it on for the younger girls and hopefully they end up the same way that I do would be kind of nice.”