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Crafton Elementary program makes engineering fun for girls

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Crafton Elementary teacher Andrea Mackey works with fourth-grade girls in the Girls with Gadgets program, a weekly program that introduces the girls to fun and creative engineering principles.
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Abbie Carroll, Juliet Gonzowski and Maddy Gorny work on building a house and furniture with Roominate kits, which allow students to create houses with working electrical pieces.

It's all about girls and gears each Tuesday at Crafton Elementary.

The Girls with Gadgets program, taught by elementary social studies teacher Andrea Mackey, aims to introduce fourth-grade girls to fun, creative engineering.

The idea, Mackey said, came from a Super Bowl advertisement for GoldieBlox, a toy company that markets engineering toys to young girls.

“Getting girls interested in science isn't a problem here, but I wanted to do more,” Mackey said.

A $1,000 grant from the Female Alliance for STEM Excellence paid for 18 GoldieBlox kits, 12 Roominate building toy kits and a trip to the Children's Museum on Friday.

The girls are split into two groups, and the groups meet on alternating Tuesdays during lunch and recess. May 6 was the second meeting for the group, which worked with Roominate kits for a wired dollhouse.

Mackey said the projects allow the girls to be creative and imaginative.

“So many have asked, ‘What do we need to have?'” she said. “Now they're getting more used to me saying, ‘Do whatever you want.'”

Cheyenne Gorsuch and Savannah Caruso were building a restaurant. When they came back in two weeks, they planned to build a mall on the second floor.

“It's fun,” Gorsuch said. “You can do more when you're not inside the classroom with everybody else.”

Abbie Carroll, Juliet Gonzowski and Maddy Gorny were building a house with their kit. They planned to include a working electric ceiling fan.

“It's been really fun, especially without the boys,” Carroll said.

The girl power was palpable. “The boys always get to do things we don't,” said Juliet Gonzowski. “Now we get to do things and the boys don't, and they're pouting.”

Mackey said it is deeper than cultivating “girl power,” though.

“Looking at what their future careers might be – science, math, technology – there are not many girls,” she said. “By the age of 8, if they're not interested in something, they're not going to be. I want to make sure my girls see these things are not just for the boys.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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