July 6th kicked off the 3rd summer of the Eureka! program. Eureka is a collaboration between Girls, Inc. of Holyoke and UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences. Middle school and high school aged girls from Holyoke and neighboring communities come to UMass all day through the month of July to participate in STEM workshops and get a taste of the college life at the labs, dining halls and gym. IGERT fellows Zana Cramer, Casey Fontana and Moijue Kaikai participated in one of the 3 GWIS planned hands-on workshops with the Eureka girls called “The Power of Wind Energy”.
The workshop began with a lesson on wind turbine technology, in which we discussed the developing industry in the United States and the current challenges faced. After explaining and quizzing the 7th graders on each part of the turbine and its function, the girls set to constructing their own mini wind turbines. Each turbine was composed of simple household materials including a fan, a pencil, plastic water bottle, tape, string and washers. Our team of IGERT students then walked the group through example calculations of force, work, and power generation for the turbines. Lastly, we introduced a bit of healthy competition by having each team put their turbines through a series of wind tests and then determining the average power output.
The girls were enthusiastic, interested, and determined throughout the duration of the workshop. We hope our work helped encourage the girls to pursue a college education and get excited about the wonders of the STEM field. These young girls are our future, and we feel there is no better investment of our time than to encourage their growing minds to pursue higher education.