We had fun.

I loved cutting straws.

I loved every part of it.

That office was so beautiful.

I loved brainstorming and sharing my ideas.

I loved when we got to actually make something out of it.

The girls never stopped chanting. They surely loved it.

On a cold, drizzling day (it was still February, and for Chicago it was like any other cold days), the girls from Funston and Spenser had a chance to turn this cold drizzles into friendly, lively drizzles. The girls and a few staff members (that includes myself) were invited to Dyson Student Workshop to celebrate a National Engineers Week and Girl Day (Introduce-a-girl-to-engineering-day). What a wonderful opportunity for all of us, even to celebrate this day with professional engineers at Dyson (yes, that vacuum company) 🙂

Dyson Foundation, which is a non-profit organization under Dyson Inc., has various engineering programs for all grades from kindergarten to high school grades, even to college levels. Dyson also partners with Chicago Public Schools to promote hands-on STEM curriculum and to have students interested in engineering at early ages. Engineering sounds like building blocks or connecting dots, but wish it could be simple like that. James Dyson, a Chief Engineer at Dyson had over 5,100 prototypes for the first-ever vacuum that he designed. A-ha, engineering takes time, it takes patience and resistance. You cannot just try once then give it up. Nope. It is definitely a though-process where brainstorming matters.

That is the way the girls began to taste what real engineering is. The girls were assigned in small groups with one Dyson leaders (all female engineers or designers) in each group. They began to share what could be better made to solve problems we are currently facing.

-a pencil that writes itself

-a closet that automatically organizes clothing

-no touch camera with automatic time-set (we don’t have to touch it, but it automatically takes photos we’d like to take)

These were just glimpse of what they’ve come up with, but those are very necessary and critical that adult-mind cannot even imagine. I always love seeing those creative, stunning minds.  Once each group has decided what they would like to go further with, they started sketching.  Yes, blueprints.  They needed exact numbers of supplies and measurements—yes, engineering requires math. Working on those blueprints, we had pizza for dinner that we called working-dinner. Here’s another part the girls experienced life outside of school. Most people do working-lunch or working-dinner when they have only a certain amount of time.  See, these are not just engineering only, life-experience.

Based on those blueprints, each group made through a next step, which is build-a-prototype. Most fun part of it all.  They got to cut pretty big, heavy pieces of cardboard and tape or glue them together. They cut straws in pieces, using those as connecting dots. The girls never stopped working—they enjoyed every part of prototyping indeed. Time just slipped by, and we didn’t even know we had to leave soon. The girls loved every bite of a second, cutting, gluing, and assembling together. One last part before we left, pitch our design to the world of business. Most of them were just shy, but they soon found confidence and presented it so well.

Thank you so much again, Dyson Staff for your beautiful work with our students 🙂

Written by: Bori Kim

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