Ignite enthusiasm for MINT - practical, individual and sustainable. This is the goal of the MINT4Girls program, which has been successfully bringing girls and young women together with job-specific aspects of MINT disciplines since November 2019. Take over several months 15 girls have practical offers in the natural and engineering sciences. The content is coordinated with the interests of the girls so that they can choose their own offers over the course of the project. The program was initiated by the Ruhr-West University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the zdi centers in Bottrop and Oberhausen.
"We want to get the girls excited about technology and technical careers, teach them to enjoy experimenting and give them exciting insights into the university and its laboratories," says Insa Larson, coordinator of the zdi network MINT4u, summarizing the project. The program aims to promote female junior staff in particular in the fields of natural sciences and technology and to support them in later career, study or training choices in the STEM field. Insa Larson has gained experience in the field of youth development over the years. It has been shown that schoolchildren can be enthusiastic about STEM in a multifaceted and effective way, particularly with the help of longer-term offers. For this reason, the MINT4Girls program was designed to last eight months. This is the only way the lecturers can go into depth, provide information about job-specific aspects of the MINT areas and the young women can try things out in peace and without pressure and explore their talents.
By the concept of spotlight stories should be successful Projects in STEM and girls pointed out and the good work of the zdi networks and zdi student laboratories are made visible.
With the "MINT4Girls" program, HRW offers participants a comprehensive program for professional orientation. Female students, scientific employees and professors from the engineering sciences actively support the program, show their own professional careers and serve as role models for the participants. Susanne Staude, President of HRW, who is an engineer herself, supports the project in order to fulfill her wish "for more female colleagues".
Bridge building, fine dust measurement or DIY e-wearables - there is something for everyone!
In November last year, the Mint4Girls project started with the first workshop on "DIY E-Wearables". The students sewed clothing, accessories or everyday objects such as shopping bags with electronic functions and individual designs. They planned, sewed, developed the circuitry so that by the end of the workshop they had their own wearable with self-developed functions. The schoolgirls were shown how creatively electronics and computer science can be used.
At the second workshop, the young women devoted their attention to bridge building. At the beginning, so-called Leonardo bridges were constructed by hand, which the girls tested for their stability by walking over the bridge themselves. Maresa and Ella, two of the participants in the program, were very enthusiastic about this workshop: "I thought it was great that we were allowed to build the bridge ourselves in competition with the other group and even held it when I walked over it." built their own small bridges in several small groups and tested them for maximum load-bearing capacity using a pressure-tensile force measuring device and received awards.
The year 2020 started for the participants on a topic that is very important to the "Fridays for Future" generation, environmental pollution. In the third workshop, the young women independently built and programmed a particulate matter measuring device and devoted themselves to the topic of "particulate matter measurement". With instructions, the schoolgirls learned which technology is required for such a measuring method, how it works and how measuring scales are programmed. At the end, various locations were tested for their particulate matter concentration, and the results were discussed and classified. The schoolgirls got first impressions of which issues are central within energy and environmental technology and what possible solutions could look like.
In the fourth workshop, there were no limits to the girls' creativity. In the Internet of Things laboratory at HRW, the course participants were given exciting insights into the world of engineering on the subject of "3D printing". After a detailed introduction to the CAD software, the students independently created a 3D CAD drawing using the software explained. Ingenuity was required because the girls were able to draw their own workpieces in the next step and then had the opportunity to have them produced using the 3D printing process. The schoolgirls were able to take their work pieces home and use them in their everyday lives. A good incentive for the participants to continue to deal with aspects of engineering.
The outbreak of the corona virus has delayed further events for the girls. However, the topics for the next workshops have already been determined together with the girls. A workshop on the subject of “Maths with a difference” and on the subject of medical technology is planned.
Participants are happy about the future prospects that are shown
"I also found it interesting to hear what the other girls want to do professionally and I'm curious to see whether that will change in the course of the project," said Thula, reflecting the girls' enthusiasm for this item on the program. Maresa said, "One would now be able to calmly deal with one's future and also get a taste of boys' jobs." Ella agreed: "I thought it was great that we were given such tasks to think about in these projects about our future. Not like in school, where this topic is hardly ever addressed.”
The project got off to a very good start and the initiators received consistently positive feedback from the students. Unfortunately, the joint completion of the project was canceled due to the corona virus. The plan now is to revive the project once the pandemic is over. Then further courses will be held with the girls from the program that started in 2019. And a “new” program is also being planned, says Insa Larson.
Social skills are also important in later professional life
During the appointments, the girls’ “social skills” were further developed through various tasks. The worksheet "My life" encouraged the girls to think about their near and distant future and they were asked to write down their long-term professional and private goals, for example. On another project day, they were instructed to create their own life map. The main focus was on dealing with one's own living environment, but also on one's own interests as well as strengths and weaknesses. The girls also look at their professional role models and introduced them to each other, explaining what can be learned from these role models.
Contact person for interested girls is Insa Larson - reachable by e-mail
(Insa.Larson@hs-ruhrwest.de) or by phone (0208/ 882 54 163).
Would you like more role models? Click here for the polaroid campaign of the zdi heroines October.
Information on other events for students can be found under www.mint4u.de.