Girl Scouts were hesitant to drink when offered a glass of water April 20 at STEMpalooza at the Museum of Science and Industry.
They watched it transform from dirty, oily water to clear through a filtering contraption they built. After following the scientific directions, the water was declared safe.
“It was cool to see the girls’ faces,” said Jennifer Medeiros, public relations and media manager of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “At first they were unsure of what they were doing, and then they made something happen. There was a look of accomplishment on their faces as their interest was awakened.”
STEMpalooza was sponsored by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida to do just that — provide a supportive environment to spark interest among girls in science, technology, engineering and math. Three hundred ninety-two Scouts and chaperones attended the event.
“Women’s representation is low at all levels of the STEM-career pipeline, from interest and intent to majoring in a STEM field in college to having a career in a STEM field in adulthood,” said Medeiros.
The National Science Foundation said women constitute 46 percent of the U.S. work force but only 22 percent of scientists and engineers.
The light bulb went on, literally, for some girls when they compared using different conductors — such as a penny or a piece of foam — to complete a wiring circuit to turn on a light.
Jean Wright, member of the NASA Speakers Bureau, showed Scouts how she combined sewing and STEM skills.
As a former member of the 15-member Thermal Protection System Facility Team at Kennedy Space Center, dubbed “the Sew Sisters,” Wright helped create thermal protection systems hardware, including fibrous insulation blankets, rocket booster parachutes and heat shield blankets.
“Jean is just as much a technician and engineer as she is an artisan,” said Medeiros. “Her sewing expertise gave her an edge in helping design and create parachutes and other fabric-based items for space.”
Wright talked about her career, showed photos of space blankets and taught the girls to sew bookmarks using fibrous insulation material.