Nearly 100 Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts took part in the NASA Keep it Cool Engineering Challenge last month and got to walk a day in the life of a real engineer.
The workshops, held at the Vernon Hills and Joliet Gathering Places, provided the perfect opportunities for girls to connect with Girl Scouts outside their own troop, or even from another city. Girls were assigned to groups of four and worked as a team throughout the day. They learned about the history of cryogenics, the steps of the engineering design process, and picked up some basic vocabulary to use before it was time to dive into the first hands on activity of the day- ice calibration!
This step challenged the girls to work together to create ice melt using measuring cups first packed with ice, then sealed inside plastic Ziploc bags, and set inside large bowls of warm water. Girls used thermometers to track the temperature of the water and graduated cylinders to measure and record the amount of ice melt. As the girls tested their process out multiple times, it became evident just how many STEMinists there are in GCNWI!
Working in groups proved easy for some, tougher for others, but by lunch all of the groups were working together well and had formed a real comradery with one another. Girl Scout Juniors Madeline and Peyton met each other for the first time when they arrived at the Joliet GP at 9 a.m., and by the end of the day, the girls were exchanging phone numbers and making plans to see each other again.
For the afternoon session, groups were able to utilize a wide variety of materials with the goal of creating an insulation for their model cryogenic tanks that would keep the ice in its frozen state for as long as possible. Groups worked together to strategize how to improve upon their designed prototypes, and by the end of the day, there were some truly unique creations. Cryogenic tanks with multiple layers of cotton balls, duct tape, cork, foam, felt, paper, and aluminum foil. The sky was the limit, and the girls challenged themselves and each other to continuing improving their designs.
The day’s activities concluded with group presentations, sharing what worked well and what could be improved upon next time. These two-day long workshops were made possible through funding from the NASA Glenn Research Center. Program Specialist Jauzlyn Hardy and Program Manager Heather Wirth took part in three training workshops in March, led by subject matter experts from NASA, in preparation for guiding Girl Scouts through the challenge.
“My Mom always asks me after an event – was it worth it? And this one definitely was!” said Annabelle M.- Girl Scout Junior.