Shoot for the stars and maybe Mars: Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Cori Santucci and Carly Kramer


Young girls around Jacksonville were inspired to pursue their dreams at the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day event, hosted by the UNF Society of Women Engineers.

The organization said that 63 girls, ages six to twelve, attended.

“You girls will change the future of engineering!” exclaimed Taylor Broussard, president of SWE.

The day began with a presentation from Broussard and SWE secretary, Summer Cheyenne. The two asked the girls what they think it means to be an engineer.

“Engineers make items to improve our everyday lives,” said one girl in the audience.

Broussard and Cheyenne then lead the girls in a brainstorming session for new technology that engineers could create to solve problems. The popular invention was the concept of a robot that had the ability to do chores.

The girls then had a discussion with Kaitlyn Ludlam, a guest speaker who has a passion for learning about outer space. Ludlam is a sophomore at Fleming Island High School who has an impressive amount of experience from working with the Mars Generation, a nonprofit organization aiming to encourage and advocate for human space exploration and STEM education,  to awarding a scholarship to a girl to attend a robotics camp.

Questions following her presentation ranged from: “Have you been to Jupiter?” to “What does STEM stand for?”

Ludlam left her crowd of onlookers with a message: “Shoot for the stars and maybe Mars!” She emphasized the need to continue dreaming and aiming high in order to reach one’s goals.

Broussard then gave a brief presentation of what the SWE has been able to accomplish. Last year, the first all-female senior design team from UNF created a water filtration system in Guatemala that provided clean water to over 120 homes.

The first activity for the girls included making marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, duct tape, and plastic spoons. There were many trials and errors involved, which first grader Danielle Picchilne encountered.

Carly Kramer
Girls working together to build a marshmallow catapult.

“The biggest challenge was the launchers,” she says. “I couldn’t get it all right, so I had to make two.”

The girls were then challenged to see whose device could launch a marshmallow the furthest.

Next, the girls used electrical engineering skills to make a flashlight using a coil. The coil was able to light up when moved around.

“The flashlight activity was fun, but I liked the catapult better,” says third grader Angelica Schonning, who wants to be an engineer when she grows up.

The SWE hoped that the young scientists would leave with this: don’t let anyone stop you from problem-solving.

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