During the “STEM Month”, the MIUR (Education, University and Research Ministry) campaign to bring girls closer to technical and scientific subjects, PACO Design Collaborative together with Junior Achievement and Siemens organised Hi-Tech Girls, a workshop based on Design Thinking Methodology dedicated to girls from 7 to 12. The workshop was designed 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.
40 girls, prospective “future engineers”, received an elephant and a sheet of paper in which was requested a solution to transport the elephant from one part of a valley 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 valley. The girls were separated in groups and with the support of some facilitators or physics, engineering, math specialists, they were followed during elaboration and execution of a solution developed within their team thanks to the precious and unique abilities of each one of them. The groups have worked using Design Thinking Methodology: starting from the analysis of a physics and engineering challenge, the kids formulated questions, collected information, elaborated hypothesis and developed their solution, to the point they were able to present it to the public.
One element that is fundamental and which must not be overlooked is that the solution proposed should work effectively: hence, the girls have built a prototype using the materials they had at hand, tested it and adapted it until it would work perfectly. During this phase, they learnt important physics notions such as levers, acceleration, gravity, friction, etc. Catapults, cableways, slides and pulleys of all sorts were the inventions proposed by the participants, perhaps one day, these girls will be our 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.
Author: Silvia Remotti
Proofreading: Isabela Sierra