Breaking the gender line in science (Arizona Republic article)

April 22, 2006

By hammersmith

[Source: Karina Bland, Arizona Republic] — Girls at Lowell Elementary School in Phoenix have designed a new toy called a springboard, a skateboard on springs instead of wheels. They dreamed it up during an after-school science club and are working on a prototype, using a skateboard belonging to 13-year-old Monique Devora’s cousin, with his permission, of course. Her fellow inventor, Brittany Chavez, 12, said, “We’re going to make sure the springs are real bouncy.”

That’s the fun part. The part that has the girls nervous is that they will present their toy to a panel of judges and in front of hundreds of other students at a national engineering competition in California. Three teams from Lowell – about a dozen girls in sixth- and seventh-grade – are among 100 teams from across the country invited to compete in the TOYchallenge 2006 Nationals at the San Diego Aerospace Museum next Saturday. While the girls track space flight and do field work in the desert as part of their science studies, for most of them, this will be their first time on an airplane and so far from home. “We’re nervous because we don’t know what to expect,” Brittany said.

They are excited, too, counting the days until they leave and sure they will do well. They are among only a few all-girl teams. At least half of each team must be girls. The TOYchallenge is run by Sally Ride Science, founded by the first woman astronaut to support girls’ interest in science, math, and technology. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]