Girls take part in engineering camp at Horizons Unlimited

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Middle school girls are putting their engineering design process to the test this week at Horizons Unlimited during the first Summer Engineering Experience for Girls.
They are being asked to imagine, plan, create and improve projects ranging from DNA tests to windmill construction.
During the four-day camp, sixth- and seventh-grade girls are discovering different aspects of engineering fields including bio, chemical, mechanical and civil.
They are also exploring sustainable living, biological membranes and various other engineering principles.
Tonya Brinegar-German, science specialist at Horizons and camp instructor, said 11 girls are attending the hands-on camp from 8 a.m. to noon each day.
“The goal of the camp is to introduce engineering principles to encourage these girls to consider that as a career possibility,” she said. “We are doing it just for girls to pique their interest.
“We want to show them engineering is not just for guys.”
During camp Wednesday the girls built sailboats, which they tested with fans to see how far they could go in 10 seconds. After a couple of test races, they had the opportunity to make alterations to their designs to make them more efficient.
After the races were complete, the girls were given their next challenge — building windmills.
“They have to use the knowledge they gained from building the sails,” Brinegar-German said.
Brinegar-German said it’s important to give the girls the interactive experience.
“They become responsible learners if they dive into it and make something,” she said. “If they are just hearing about it they aren’t going to remember it as much.”
Grace Williams, 10, a rising sixth-grader at Knox Middle, said she’s enjoyed her time at the camp.
“It’s been really fun and exciting,” she said. “I’ve learned so much, it’s just been amazing.”
Claudia Barger, 11, a student at West Middle, said she was skeptical about the camp at first.
“When my mom first told me I was coming to engineering camp I thought it wouldn’t be fun,” she said. “But it ended up being great.”
McKenzie Collins said she had a different reaction when she found out about the camp.
“I was really excited about coming,” she said. “I love science.”
Brinegar-German said the camp builds on that love of science.
“Science and engineering are so closely related,” she said. “Engineering is really just the practical knowledge. We are putting our science knowledge to use.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.