STEM Workshop for Siemens
My role: Workshop Facilitator
Team: PACO Design Collaborative,
Junior Achievement and Siemens
When/Where: 2017 - Italy
PACO Design Collaborative, together with Junior Achievement, promoted in collaboration to Siemens an workshop to bring girls closer to technical and scientific subjects. Developed during the "STEM Month", the workshop was dedicated to girls from 7 to 12 years old. Based on Design Thinking Methodology, the occasion aimed to stimulate the girls’ interest on subjects such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, fields that offer several job opportunities but which until today are predominantly masculine. It is not by coincidence that this workshop was held on the international Women’s Day.
Forty girls, prospective “future engineers”, separated in groups, received an envelope with an elephant toy and the written challenge: "Come fa l'elefante as attraversare la valle?/ How does the elephant cross the valley?"
They were requested a solution to transport one elephant from one part of a vail to another without dropping it. In order to make the challenge more realistic two chairs placed in front of each other, roughly one meter apart, simulated the two sides of the vail.
With the help of mentors and some mathematics, physics and engineering experts, the children started the activity. They started by analyzing the problem and the gravity challenges to transport the animal. Using the Brainstorming technique, they designed a variety of ideas on paper, formulated questionnaires and applied interviews with people around the area, adjusted and defined the most important strategies for the project.
With a defined idea, it was time to test it. The teams have built prototypes using simple materials, such as: cardboard, colored pencil, scissors, glue, modeling clay, tape, toilet paper, straw, pasta, rubber band, wooden sticks, disposable spoons and pulleys.
Gradually, they were testing it and adapting it until it would work perfectly. During this phase, they learnt important physics notions such as levers, acceleration, gravity and friction. Catapults, cableways, slides and pulleys of all sorts were the inventions proposed by the participants. Perhaps, one they these girls will be successful engineers.
“We have decided to build a slide made of paper with the materials they put for us on the table, and we have decorated it with the colored play-doh. Then we used bottles full of water to make the counterweight, sheets of paper in order to make it slide better and toilet paper for a softer landing” Sofia, 10 years old.