Hartsville Y hosts Girls University engineering workshop


By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

The Hartsville YMCA hosted a Girls University workshop last week where little girls worked together to build a project and, hopefully, build their interest in the engaging field of engineering.

“We’re introducing girls to engineering through simple activities. Tonight, they’re building newspaper towers and they’re going to work as a team and see who can build the tallest freestanding tower. So there’s a little bit of competition going on,” said Ashli Smart, director of programs for Girls University.

On hand to mentor and consult with the teams were students from the Governor’s School for Science and Math, and professional engineers from Duke Energy’s Women in Nuclear group.

Girls University has held several similar workshops in Florence and Darlington, each focused on girls enrolled in K5 through 6th Grade. Smart says that while kindergartners might seem a bit young to understand engineering concepts, she has found that kids as young as age four can grasp the basics.

“I had a girl in the workshop in Darlington that age, and you can see when they’re thinking critically about the problem and offering good suggestions on how to make improvements,” says Smart. “They can do it. We just have to push them and give them the opportunities to do it.”

Statistics show that women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers within the United States, comprising less than 24 percent of those employed in STEM fields. The numbers for women of color are even lower, with Asian, Black, and Latina women comprising just under 10 percent of working scientists and engineers. In 2016, women in America represented about 4 percent of architecture and engineering occupations.

Girls University offers a variety of learning opportunities, ranging from one-hour workshops to five-day camps where kids employ STEM concepts in fun activities using mazes and marbles, mirrors, logic puzzles, doll houses, and even cupcakes. This year, summer camps will be held locally at the Hartsville YMCA and Darlington County Institute of Technology.

To learn more about upcoming programs and events offered by Girls University, call 843-407-7937 or visit them online at www.girls-university.com.

Author: Duane Childers

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