CT middle schoolers adding girl power to engineering

Connecticut

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — “Dream big.” That was the message to 50 female middle school students who got a chance to experience life at Collins Aerospace in Windsor Locks and use scientific and engineering principles to help astronauts safely land on the moon.

That was one of the experiments they got involved with as part of “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” — a campaign at Collins Aerospace facilities around the world to get more girls interested in pursuing careers in science and engineering — fields fewer females are pursuing.

That bothers Carolyn Begnoche, who works at Collins Aerospace. That’s why she’s proud that her company is reaching more than 2,000 young girls with their combined efforts worldwide.

“To show diversity,” she said. “To show that they can be engineers.”

As part of the lunar landing experiment, the girls designed a space capsule using a plastic cup and household supplies; the astronauts were marshmallows. They had to design a contraption that, when dropped, would not allow the marshmallows to fall out.

The experiment simulated what it’s like when a space capsule lands on a planet and NASA has to ensure their spacecraft will be durable enough to keep the crew safe.

Another experiment allowed the girls to use batteries, pencils, wires and water to see if they could form bubbles and separate hydrogen and oxygen. The goal was to demonstrate H20 electrolysis.

Ava Rivera was amazed when bubbles started forming in her cup.

“It worked!” she said. “We separate hydrogen and oxygen!”

Moments like that are what this day was all about — when girls realize they can accomplish big things.

“Oh, absolutely,” said Begnoche. “Today they’re learning there are no boundaries. They are putting their ideas on paper; they’re designing, they’re testing.”

They even gave the girls a chance to talk to a former astronaut.

Rivera still isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up. But, she said today inspired her.

“It’s really just taught you the confidence of capability of young women,” she said.

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