All of the sudden, one recent afternoon, there were 15 skyscrapers appearing in the historic Charleston skyline… or at least the skyline in the eyes of students from Ashley Hall School. About 50 students participated in a DiscoverE Girl Day activity, part of a worldwide effort to bring engineering to life for young girls.
The Charleston District challenged middle school girls to design and construct the tallest tower they could with the smallest footprint possible. Each team could use only one pair of scissors, 10 sheets of paper and one roll of masking tape and would be judged on their tower’s width-to-height ratio.
The girls met the slender tower challenge head-on and four Charleston District engineers spent time sharing their enthusiasm for their professional field and listening to the teams present their thoughts on why they built their towers the way they did.
“It was great to see the students of Ashley Hall working in a team environment and researching existing projects to develop a solution to this challenge, said Holly Carpenter, Post 45 project manager. “Working in a team, with multiple disciplines from different points of views, can be challenging in the workplace and is a great skill to focus on developing early on.”
Team work was vital in being able to successfully complete this exercise. It was obvious early on that the girls had spent a lot of time learning and working together, so they collaborated well on designing and building their towers.
The engineers did a great job of stirring curiosity and creativity. They asked the girls “how,” “why” and “what if;” important questions for any budding engineer.
Hanna Collins, a civil engineer in the District’s navigation branch, spent time answering questions from the girls and stressed that engineering teaches analytic and problem solving skills that can lead to success in all types of fields.
Independent thinking was a theme Sara Brown, civil engineer in the District’s Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch, wanted to highlight and one that Ashley Hall students are taught early on. She posed questions about some of the world’s highest structures, such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which one of the Ashley Hall teachers had just visited a few months earlier.
Drones were a very popular topic that Brad Ryczko, management support branch chief, fielded many questions on from curious girls. He has spent countless hours working on various drones and this certainly peaked the girls’ interest.
Celebrating how engineers make a difference in our world and in the Charleston skyline, even if for only a few hours, was a fun and educational experience for Ashley Hall and the District and hopefully a few of these girls will be the next generation of female engineers for the Corps.