Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Because Girls CAN Do Anything Boys Can Do

*Disclaimer-This is a compensated post to promote, a website dedicated to introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences and making science and math relevant.*

There has been a growing concentration of media attention in regards to girls and their exposure to engineering, especially at an early age. As a mother of 2 sons and a daughter (my youngest), my home has an abundance of engineering/problem solving toys and activities. That said, I stepped back recently and evaluated what "we" owned and what "she" owned - I was a little disgusted with myself in that most of Corinne's mechanical and engineering exposure exists as hand-me-downs from her brothers. Aside from a few lego sets and building blocks, all of the really "cool" stuff was once owned by a BOY.

There is nothing wrong with hand-me-downs! I know this; you know this. Second-hand toys are a staple of life and I could not exist without them. What does this say to my daughter, though? Have I unknowingly assisted the world in perpetuating the idea that women are not equipped to handle the fields of engineering?

Enough!  Enough of that. My girl is brilliant and creative and loves to build everything from elaborate blanket forts to a "zip line" in the backyard. She has just as much talent and interest in the processes of building and problem-solving as her brothers do and should always be exposed to as many hands-on activities as they are!

When I was contacted to promote , I jumped at the chance. not only because I needed a kick in the pants to be MORE "Hands on" with my children's engineering exposure, but also because I homeschool and the DiscoverE site and Facebook page has fantastic resources for engineering activities and videos. In fact, I just spent half an hour with my daughter on some of the links their site provided. We built a parachute that could withstand the rigors of a Mars entry but would also fit into the minimal volume of the canister that is provided on the spacecraft. We assigned work projects to scientists of different abilities and discussed what the words "computer, supercomputer, and grid" meant. We had fun playing games that are designed for KIDS and she learned, once again, that she is capable and smart; she is able to be anything she puts her mind to.

Some people hear the word "engineer" and think of about 2 stereotypes: a guy in coveralls, driving a train, and a mechanical-type figure of eras gone past. But engineering is more than that! If includes career choices from nearly any field imaginable: medicine, law, manufacturing, and agriculture. Engineering is required to build not only bridges and buildings but also infrastructures that help to feed and clothe the world. If there are problems that need to be solved, engineering comes into play!

As a homeschooling family, bringing science and math into our "everyday" is more than just a supplement to their education: it IS their education! The projects available through DiscoverE encourage our daughters and sons to consider all of the options that exist in this hugely diverse world. One of the most intriguing ideas I have found out about through DiscoverE is the competition. In fact, I am researching if our homeschooling co-op is able to register for the 2015 competition! I think our middle school kids would really pull together and create something unique.

For more information on encouraging your daughter in the fields of engineering, join in on Twitter for a #GirlDay2014 #STEMchat on February 19 at 9 PM Eastern in honor of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day
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