Girls get comfortable with GADgets
Breanna Thompson, 12, of Hilside works on her spinning lamp as part of a program called Girls Adventuring in Design Engineering and Technology better know as GADget. The four-day summer program is in its second year at Triton College and is geared to motivate girls to pursue careers in engineering and technology./Photo by David Pollard
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:05AM
RIVER GROVE — Pre-teen girls moved around Triton College’s engineering and technology classroom liked they owned the place.
Using glue guns, drills and belt saws, they built gadgets with their own two hands. The 16 girls, the majority of whom are elementary school students, were participating in Girls Adventuring in Design Engineering and Technology — better know as GADget.
Partly funded by a grant from Fabricator Manufactures Association’s foundation called Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs, the four-day event in July challenged the girls to use a variety of tools, resources, positive reinforcement and their imagination to complete a task.
Breanna Thompson, 12, of Hillside had the idea of building her own disco ball, but another member of the group had the idea so she decided to take her idea in another direction creating a lamp that spins. She had a day to complete their projects.
Grace Winters, 11, of Chicago, made a box that would hold beverages in them.
“My dad is a cook,” she said. “I wanted to do something that had to do with food.”
Antigone Sharris, faculty and program coordinator in Engineering Technology at the college was right there with them.
“We’re getting the girls to do things that they might not have an opportunity to do in school,” Sharris said. “Get them to think about their career path.”
“They got a chance to see women in different roles in manufacturing facilities and that we (Americans) do make things in the United States,” she said. “They also learned the importance of a strong math background.”
Sharris advised the girls to think out the projects, because sometimes an idea on paper needs to be changed when trying to construct it.
“They are following the same process used in industry,” she said. “You don’t always start (a project) with the final materials. There are many unknowns than knowns.”
To rule out the unknowns they used pink foam board to build prototypes of what they were trying to build.
Sharris made sure that the students were given a lot of room to figure out how they would complete their projects.
“I don’t think we challenge our youth enough and we underestimate their capabilities and a consequence of that is that they find other ways to entertain themselves like video games,” she said.