Everywhere you look, everything you see involves engineering. Engineering uses the imagination to create new things from scratch, and boys are not the only ones with vision and a passion for creating. Girls love these things as well. Yes, this fact is illustrated in a girl’s love for engineering with forts. A love of engineering for girls starts with fort building.
Fort Magic kits encourage creation with gender neutral fort kits. Why? Because research shows and engineers agree that encouraging a girl’s interest in engineering and science proves beneficial. Finding and fostering a young girl’s passion for drawing, building, imagining or analyzing may lead to a future engineer.
What may not surprise you is that girls are needed in the field of engineering. While boys are encouraged in this pursuit, girls often miss out on these opportunities. Girls represent the minority in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs. Less than 15 percent of engineers are women.
These facts do not imply that girls are less capable or even uninterested. If given STEM toys, girls imagine, create and play right along with the boys. But, these types of toys i.e. building blocks, chemistry sets, and rocket kits, often do not stock the shelves in the pink girls’ section at the store. Early exposure to engineering concepts provides girls with an understanding of the power of this creative process and its value in our society. Engineering shapes every aspect of our lives from how and what we eat to how we learn and how we engage and navigate the world. And, fort building provides a fun way for girls to explore aptitude and passion for necessary skills in this field.
Why, again, is this so worthy of attention? Aprille Ericcson, a NASA aerospace engineer, believes that “Without diversity in all fields, the United States will not remain technically competitive.” Solving problems and creating unique tools accomplished by the differing perspectives of girls and boys produces impressive projects. Girded with information, parents take on the role of proactively addressing this gender disparity in engineering. Armed with your Fort Magic kit, create a problem and inspire your daughter to solve the issue. Begin by having her draw out ideas on paper. Problem-solving and design are integral to engineering.
If you need a little inspiration, you can spur a little girl’s interest in engineering with hands-on activities found at DiscoverE. Using Fort Magic sticks and connectors, your daughter can be inspired to create a structure worthy of earthquake survival or an emergency shelter. Now, start inventing! Lay out the sticks and connectors, plus any other needed supplies such as sheets or crafting items. Encourage your daughter to bring alive the drawings on the paper. If parts are missing, help her walk the house and imagine what she could use. Critical thinking solves problems as she goes along, and her imagination just might inspire you!
Once completed, the time comes to test the project. Did the creation solve the problem? Put on those thinking caps and resolve further problems, update the solution, make adjustments and analyze if the solution solves the problem. Remember to let your girl lead the charge on all thinking. Asking questions rather than making statements helps with this. Let her fail. If she has an idea, let her try it out (within safe guidelines, of course). Making mistakes or trying solutions that do not work frees the mind to new ideas.
Working together, child to parent or child to child makes the project all the more fun and develops group cooperation. Engineers do not stand alone. Many other fields must work together to create grand projects. Help your little girl to learn these relational skills at a young age. For more thoughts on inspiring this engineering process, check out Engineering for Kids with Forts.
Look at the world around you and find the work of engineers. Bridges, buildings, snowboards, wireless networks and more exist due to the hand of an engineer. Brainstorm together how an engineer played a role in creating everyday items such as a frying pan. Research answers on the web for things your daughter is curious about or to discover what engineering is.
Further inspire your young girl with stories of women engineers. For instance, in 1903, Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper. Emily Roebling studied engineering topics and supervised the building of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband became ill.
Take your daughter’s fort building skills to new levels by searching out camps, events, clubs and competitions. Form a team with friends or go solo. Cannot find a group? Start one to encourage fun projects that get girls designing and creating. As a family, plan a Girl Day activity to promote girls in engineering. Be sure your girl plays an integral role in the planning and activity. After all, this is about her.
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