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Engineering Girls @ the Beach Day at CSULB

Published: March 16, 2009

Continuing its mission in encouraging girls to become more interested in math, science and engineering, the College of Engineering at CSULB will host for fourth- through sixth-grade school girls its first “Engineering Girls @ the Beach” day on Friday, March 27 from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Taking place in and around CSULB’s Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) building complex, each girl will attend four 30-minute workshops that will include hands-on activities, such as bird house construction, the use of electricity, an exploration of concrete strength and uses, and bridge building. The event’s workshops are designed to conform to the California Science Framework curricula adopted by the California Board of Education.

“Data regarding female competence in math and science that we have accumulated over the past eight years provides proof that girls perform at grade-level or higher in math,” said Lilly Gossage, director of CSULB’s College of Engineering Recruitment and Retention Center. “We have found that much of the reason girls and young women don’t enter the engineering field is due to a lack of push toward math and science at a younger age.”

A correlation study done using data collected from more 2,400 female students during the first four years of the College of Engineering’s annual fall program Women Engineers @ the Beach showed that only 6.8 percent of participants had prior knowledge of engineering. However, after attending the event, 91.4 percent of female participants reported having a greater understanding of the field. Another survey item that assessed female students’ interest in returning for additional program participation showed an 88.6 percent positive response rate.

Engineering Girls @ the Beach, which takes place each spring semester at CSULB, was created to provide elementary school girls an event that is more age-appropriate for them. Participating school counselors have stated that the younger girls who attended Women Engineers @ the Beach in the past, which included middle and high school girls, would have felt more comfortable learning among those of the same age.

Four Long Beach schools will participate this spring in the first Engineering Girls @ the Beach — Chavez Elementary, International Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary and Stevenson Elementary.

A pre- and post-event survey will gauge paticipants’ level of comprehension and interest. The results will be used to study the effectiveness of CSULB’s outreach and provide additional information to help the College of Engineering continue to improve the program.

“Engineering Girls @ the Beach will provide participants an extension of what they are already learning in their classrooms,” said Gossage. “It is our hope that Engineering Girls @ the Beach will leave a lasting impression on our youngest participants. Reaching out to girls at a much younger age is critical in a generation where self-expression is valued over self-control, where Brittany Spears is more of a role model than their math and science teachers or renowned engineers such as Grace Murray Hopper and Judith Resnik.”

Engineering Girls @ the Beach is sponsored by Fluor Daniel, a FORTUNE 150 company that delivers engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance (EPCM) and project management to governments and clients in diverse industries around the world. The event is co-sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers, Long Beach Chapter.