Girl Scouts Earn Merit Badge in Engineering

UNIVESRITY PARK – Braving cool temperatures and damp conditions, Girl Scouts from around the region descended on Penn State to attend Girl Scout Saturday.

The program, offered by the College of Engineering’s Women in Engineering Program twice in the fall and twice in the spring, gives girls a glimpse of the opportunities available in the field of engineering.

“A lot of them have taken a big interest in engineering,” said Chloe Abraczinskas, an aerospace engineering senior and intern who helped organize the event.

Abraczinskas said about 45 girls attended Girl Scout Saturday, coming from as far away as Kutztown for the three-hour program.

In addition to panel discussions on careers in science and engineering and the role of women in the fields, the Girl Scouts had the opportunity to tour wind tunnel and water channel laboratories used by engineers.

The girls also were tasked with building a miniature prototype of a roller coaster as part of an engineering design challenge.

Working in teams and using tubing, tape, pins and cardboard, the girls assembled their roller coasters, complete with gentle loops, sharp turns and steep dives.

The teams then tested their creations, using marbles as coaster car substitutes. Sprinkled between the applause for successful designs were laughs when some marbles didn’t quite stay on track.

Still, the assignment taught the girls the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy.

“It just sparked my interest,” said 15-year-old Alexa Holsinger of her decision to attend the event. “I like it because it got me interested in coming here for some kind of engineering.”

Holsinger, from nearby Penns Valley, said she’s considering pursuing civil engineering or architectural engineering. “Something I can get my hands on,” she said.

Claudia Reed of Cresson said her daughter Rose gave up a trip to tour the Crayola factory to attend Girl Scout Saturday. Although this weekend marked the sixth time the Reeds attended Girl Scout Saturday, Claudia said her daughter has yet to tire of it.

“She likes the science, she loves the hands on stuff,” she said, adding that the two had to fight a little snow near their home in order to make the trek. “Where else can your daughter mingle with other girls in a college setting?”

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