NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Benjamin Franklin High School’s Society for Women Engineers, known as SWENext, is hosting a series of free virtual design challenges this month for girls ages 6-13.
“Normally, we host our events locally at Ben Franklin High School,” said SWENext Outreach Chair Helena Usey ’22. “Due to COVID-19, however, we decided to continue our outreach endeavors virtually. We are currently hosting a series of nationwide virtual STEM events meant to spark curiosity in young girls by encouraging them to add their own creative elements to their STEM project. We just finished our last challenge, Mission Blast Off, which asked girls to create their own rockets to launch.”
A high school chapter of the larger collegiate Society of Women Engineers, SWENext is devoted to the mission of encouraging younger girls to pursue STEM careers. With the pandemic making in-person gatherings dangerous, the group decided to broaden their outreach efforts and go online and nationwide.
“We want to create a hands-on and inclusive environment for young girls to safely explore the world of STEM,” said SWENext President Amy Ndiaye ’21. “Our biggest challenge yet started Monday, July 13, with projects due on July 24. It’s New Orleans- themed because we’re hoping to share a taste of our local culture nationwide. These next challenges, called Krewe de SWE and the Flood-Proofing Project, are designed to help girls solve real-world problems from home.”
The first challenge, for girls ages 6-9, focuses on making Carnival floats safer and more environmentally friendly. For bonus points, contestants can make suggestions for “greener” Mardi Gras throws.
The second challenge, for girls 10-13, explores Louisiana’s flood risk and how to mitigate environmental challenges, including the best houses to build in flood-prone areas.