On May 12th, IGNITE Worldwide welcomed elementary school girls and non-binary students from Federal Way Public Schools to a workshop with Boeing! The students learned about how Boeing utilizes skilled aeronautical engineers to devise safe, fast, reliable, and fuel-efficient airplanes. Moreover, they learned how individual components like seats are designed with maximum passenger safety and comfort in mind. The students enjoyed a short video, which reinforced their understanding of Boeing. Then, the workshop transitioned into information about the underrepresentation of women and non-binary people in STEM fields, which leads to less inclusive designs of widely used products. Finally, the students learned about the many advantages of a STEM career, such as high demand, generous pay, and widespread career satisfaction!
Following the introduction, two Boeing STEM professionals shared their own personal stories.
Wendy Lee, Project Manager, described how she learned mathematics as a way of circumventing language barriers as an ESL student. She learned from her struggles with the English language that it was okay to not understand all of the material, and decided to study computer science in high school. Her primary takeaway was that technology is about innovation, and diversity is key for that innovation!
Ambermarie Dawdy, Production Engineer, was first introduced to STEM through after-school activities. Being outnumbered as a girl in STEM taught her to confidently stand out in other ways. She earned a leadership role in her high school robotics club and secured an elite internship at Johnson & Johnson. Her advice to the students was to embrace “being the odd one out” and to unapologetically be yourself!
The students had an opportunity to pose their own questions to the panelists, which included:
- How did you realize you wanted to do engineering?
- What gave you the confidence to be a woman at Boeing?
- What can we do in elementary school to prepare for a career in STEM?
Responses and advice to the students included:
- Amber liked the environment of STEM classes and clubs in high school, while Wendy was excited by a school trip to Microsoft. Wendy valued the sense of belonging she found by participating in STEM courses.
- Boeing is very friendly to female employees and offers quality support to new employees! Coworkers are collaborative and supportive.
- Be curious, talk to adults who have different careers, ask thoughtful questions, attend informational events, and find places where you can volunteer.
- Get out of your comfort zone as much as possible!
The question and answer session helped the students see the limitless possibilities in STEM!
Next, the students engaged in a workshop activity where they designed and built their own airplane wings! The students watched an informative video about a Boeing aircraft, the Phantom Eye, which was the inspiration for the activity. The Phantom Eye has very long wings that allow it to fly at 65,000 feet for up to 4 days! Each student used tape and index cards to build their own airplane wings that were at least 2 feet long and held their own weight. Students also got an opportunity to show their final product to the whole group. The students especially enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the activity!
A huge thank you to the Boeing team and everyone who made this event possible! Thank you to Dawn Angus and Ruthie Berk, Tech Host Grace Roberts, Facilitator Dana Day, Breakout Room Leaders Kimberly Eagle, Elma Dedic, and Kayla Phillips, Panelists Ambermarie Dawdy and Wendy Lee, and IGNITE Volunteer Sebastian Rodionov for such an engaging workshop that exposed elementary school girls and non-binary students to STEM!
After attending this event:
of students are interested in STEM
of students know more about STEM career choices and the benefits of working in a STEM field
of students feel more confident in pursuing STEM
of students gained perspective and feel more hopeful about the future
Here’s what the students thought of the event:
“It inspired me to do more than I can now!” – 5th grade
“It showed/inspired me that women/females can be just as amazing as boys/men and that everyone can do anything…as long as you have confidence!” – 5th grade
“Everybody was amazing!” – 4th grade
“It was fun and it made me more curious!” – 4th grade
“It was great meeting them. They are big inspirations and they should keep doing what they are doing with their careers and STEM!” – 5th grade