In the process of building a miniature solar-powered car, Bell Middle School students Alicia Crespin, Jacqueline Rossell-Rust and Joanna Toy put their problem-solving skills to the test.
“We kept coming up with problems, so we had to find ways to fix them,” Toy said. “When something didn’t work, we had to take it apart and put it back together again.”
The solar-powered car was one of 18 projects presented at the Girls in STEM Competition Feb. 22 at the Golden Library. About 50 girls entered the competition. Some worked individually, and others worked in groups of four or less.
All entries had to be a project that would impact the world or solve an everyday problem, and could be related to energy and development, biomedical or health and nutrition.
The girls had to include a hypothesis and a visual aid with their entry.
Judging the competition were Colorado School of Mines students Emma May, Bethel Tessema and Shelly Konopka, who are with Mines’ DECTech, an outreach program designed to engage young girls in STEM subjects.
All the contestants received a certificate of participation, and the winners and honorable mentions were recognized at the Jefferson County International Women’s Day celebration on March 8.
“Science is where to go for these girls,” said Annette Marchitto, mother of a competition entrant. “We need more female scientists.”
Marchitto’s daughter Valerie, 11, and her friend Lilli True, 11, did a study on norovirus and how to stop the spread of it.
“Norovirus is dangerous because it is one of the most spreadable (stomach) viruses and it has the fastest mutation rate,” True said. “We hope to bring awareness to this, and we want people to wash their hands more often.”
Elderly family members were the inspiration behind Brenda Dodson and Sara Keen’s project — the two 13-year-olds designed and built a walker for senior citizens needing assistance.
The walker can provide a lot of independence, the girls explained, because it is equipped with a variety of reminder and life alert devices.
“It’s great for anyone to get involved with STEM,” said Shawn Arbuckle of Golden, whose daughter entered the competition. “This is the next generation that will be solving the problems of the world.”
To Morgan Brodnax, 12, and Sasha Bandock, 13, one thing that needs attention is the limited amount of natural resources.
“We thought that water was the most important nonrenewable resource,” Brodnax said.
So the girls designed a salt water filtration system.
The variety of projects — studies on nutrition, disease, solar power, space and water filtration, to name a few topics — exceeded expectations, said Debbie Ridgell, supervisor of the Golden Library.
“I look at this,” she said, “and I realize our world is in good hands.”