By Jennifer Toy
I woke up early on Saturday October 30th both excited and a little nervous to be hosting the first in-person Engineering Day since 2018. For me and my committee, reviving this event without recent precedent while in the middle of a pandemic posed many challenges. In all honesty, it was a challenge that I was afraid to take on at first — I did not want to be the one to butcher Engineering Day.
Everything that possibly could have gone wrong crossed my mind at some point. What if the kids did not like the activities we picked, or if we ran out of materials, or if we booked a bad venue? And at the top of my priority list, what if our event is not COVID safe? I think as a new SWofficer coming into my first in-person semester, these were very valid fears that prepared me well for planning.
With this, I feel that my committee deserves much praise and credit for sticking by me through the uncertainty and going above and beyond in organizing Engineering Day. Aisha, Ashley, Athena, Jenna, and Joy were the five masterminds behind the activities, decorations, and fundraiser for Engineering Day, and I am so proud of the effort they put into engaging positively with the kids. Together, we were able to prepare four spooky activities with minimal hands-on involvement (to limit contact), a photobooth wall, candy bags, and a raffle fundraiser.
Ever since joining SWE’s OHP committee in Spring 2021, I’ve found my work in SWoutreach (which is SWE and Outreach combined) to be so rewarding. Shifting toward a younger audience for Engineering Day, I’ve realized how powerful it is for us to serve as role models of women in STEM for these kids. In retrospect, I think it will be hard for me to forget the little girl who called out to Athena to tell her that her name was also Athena or the group of kids that ran after Aisha to the sink to watch her wash out the elephant toothpaste flasks. I won’t forget the little pumpkin boy who came up to me to ask about a chemical reaction or the little Hermione who asked about how crystals form. It was little moments like these that reassured me that this effort was worthwhile and meaningful, and I think my committee members would agree!
As we move forward, my committee and I have gathered plenty of feedback and ideas for improvement that we hope to see implemented next year. A major part of reviving an event like Engineering Day is the constructive feedback from students, parents, volunteers, and ourselves which we have been gathering through feedback forms and feedback sessions. Next year, more engineering activities, coffee fundraisers and costume parades might be involved, but you’ll have to come to Engineering Day 2022 to find out! :)