It started with a shopping list with a strange combination of ingredients, and ended with award winning designs for the Edible Car Contest held on National Engineers Day at the University of Vermont. The Tech Savvy Girls team at St. Albans City School lead by Lucie deLaBruere discovered that their experiences as young women lead to some unique ideas about what would make good adhesive to hold axels, wheels, and bodies of their edible car designs into place. Experimenting with materials, physics lessons from tech-ed teacher, Mr. Smith, pep talks from Ms. deLaBruere about the value of their experience as young women, and lots of redesign, lead to some creative prototypes by over a dozen middle school girls who met afterschool during FCSU’s Open Door program designing cars that had to be made of 100% edible materials.
This hands on experience with the design process, coupled with exploring websites about engineering helped the girls prepare for participation in the E-week activities on February 2, 2006 sponsored by the UVM College of Engineering. Thanks to quick redesign with well-packed repair kits, the girls faired well in the Edible Car Competition sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers. The top three places for fastest cars all went to St. Albans City School students with 1st place going to Emily Duffy and Danielle Esenler, 2nd place to Rochelle German and Gina Neidig, and 3rd place to Katherine Chagnon and Katie Stillwell.
First place for furthest car went to Nichole Reed and Leilani King, also from St. Albans City School. Also competing with some brilliantly engineered vehicles were Joanne Barton, Brooke Spence, Megan Spence, Elizabeth Done, Catherine Markle, and Nichole Messick.
The day was also filled with opportunities to meet some wonderful women role models during a Power Lunch with Women Engineers organized by Ms. DeLaBruere. Five women engineers shared their stories with the girls over lunch, which provided audio, video, and photos for a series of podcasts on The Creative Side of Engineering, which are currently under production by the St. Albans City School Tech Savvy Girls. The podcast featuring these women along with photos and videos of the Edible Car project will be released over the next few weeks and can be viewed at www.TechSavvyGirls.com.
The cars were not the only hit of the day, as Mr. Smith’s students Tyler Bora and Patrick Cook wowed the crowd with their brightly colored helicopters spinning in two different directions during the passive helicopter drop where they placed in the semifinals.
The students are already planning new strategies for next year’s participation in the E-Week events which also include bottle rockets, pasta bridges, bridges trusses and many Exhibits from companies like Goodrich and the Vermont Air Guard.