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Girl Guides Engineering Day

STEM badges were earned by 25 Girl Guides through an Engineering Day at the Fort St. John branch on Saturday, March 23, 2019.

Girl Guides earn badges for service to community, adventures they’ve tried and skills they’ve developed. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) badges are a challenge to receive, so this event organized by engineer-in-training, Emma Greendale, was a much-valued opportunity. (See the Girl Guides’ Science Book of STEM challenges.)

“The full day of activities introduced the girls to what we do in our office,” says Emma, who was actually a Girl Guide for seven years of her youth. “We showed them what the career of a municipal engineer looks like.”

The Girl Guides as an organization aligns very well with the Foundation’s guiding principles. They provide a “safe, all-girl environment that invites girls to challenge themselves, to find their voice, meet new friends, have fun and make a difference in the world. Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) strives to ensure that girls and women from all walks of life, identities and lived experiences feel a sense of belonging and can fully participate.”

While the day’s focus was on earning a STEM badge, the girls earned a water badge as well.

“Our event took place on the day after World Water Day, so we watched videos and had discussions that encouraged the girls to reflect on where they get their water from and how they use it,” says Emma. “They gained an understanding of the value of water as a resource, both locally and globally.”

The girls moved through stations throughout the day in a process of building their own water model of Fort St. John. They also participated in a water taste test and built a water wheel.

“My favourite station was the Water Treatment Plant in a bottle. As a team, we were pretty skeptical about the quality of water we would get with water bottle filters and were worried the girls wouldn’t see the effects of filtration,” says Emma.

Kimberly Zackodnik, a professional engineer at the Fort St. John office, helped a lot in the planning of the event, especially with brainstorming stations.

“Kim had the brilliant idea of getting activated charcoal used in fish tanks, as well as testing the water with a turbidity meter,” continues Emma. “To our shock, the girls were able to filter their soil water – around 1000 NTU – down to around 6 NTU. Pretty impressive!”

At one of the stations, Emma showed the girls a video on the water recycling program in Windhoek, Namibia where they have been recycling their waste water to drinking water standards for over 50 years.

“I was surprised that more than half of the girls had no issue with the thought of drinking the treated water and were actually intrigued by the idea,” says Emma.

Megan Roeske (civil engineering technologist), Edward Stanford (local government consultant), Graham Schmit (EIT), and Josh Andrews (EIT) also helped plan for, and volunteered on, Engineering Day along with Emma.

“They were all stellar leaders of each of the stations,” says Emma. “Jesse Cass, a GIS specialist at our Kamloops branch, helped us with a HUGE favour last minute by setting up a GIS mapping program in Lightship that worked flawlessly. The girls had a lot of fun with their water infrastructure scavenger hunt.”

The teenagers completed the experiments rather quickly.

“Fortunately, Graham had prepared a table of small demos and experiments, which the girls could work on independently while they waited for the rest of their group to finish,” adds Emma. “That was a lifesaver, and the girls were never bored.”

The event was very rewarding for all of the attendees, including several Girl Guide leaders and parents.

“The highlight of the day for me was when one of the girls came up to me at the end to thank me,” says Emma. “She said how much she liked our office and staff, and that someday, she wants to work for a company like ours!”

Emma would like us to remember that there’s a very easy way we can all support our local Girl Guides.

“Girl Guides in your area are in the midst of their spring cookie sales,” she says. “These are the vanilla and chocolate ones – chocolate mint lovers have to wait until the fall!”

Check out the national Cookie Finder Map for a location to buy them – still just $5.00 a box!

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