Girls Tech Career Day 2016 Recap

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Writeup by Laura Christenson and Jennifer Graham. Photographs by Andrea Mascher and Jennifer Graham.

Girls Tech Career Day 2016 – More Girls, More Activities, and Even More Fun!

On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, the Iowa Tech Chicks held its 4th annual Girls Tech Career Day. This year, we had over 50 girls in grades 5-8 participate. For the second year, our event was hosted at the beautiful Kirkwood Regional Center in Coralville, Iowa.

This event depends on community support, so we owe a big THANK YOU to our Girls Tech Career Day 2016 sponsors.

Registration and Welcome Activities

First, the girls registered and received official Girls Tech Career Day 2016 t-shirts.

Girls arriving and registering at Girls Tech Career Day 2016

Then, Kim Ostler, this year’s volunteer coordinator, grouped girls into squads of 10. After the girls signed in, they met their team captains, women volunteers from the tech community, who led some getting acquainted activities.

Girls go to team captains and meet their squad

During open times throughout the day, volunteers and girl attendees enjoyed using a photo booth to commemorate the day. We borrowed this booth rom the Coralville Public Library. Library employees also staffed the booth.

Girls enjoy taking pictures at the photo booth during registration

Co-chairs Deb Walton of Leepfrog Technologies, and Laura Christenson of MedTouch welcomed the girls.

Morning Activities

Then, girls split into three groups and attended three interactive sessions.


One session focused on learning about binary code. Michelle Knedler of Pearson taught girls to use beads represent their initials in binary bracelets.

Girls using the driving simulator

Another session, led by volunteers from the National Advanced Driving Simulator, taught girls about driving.

nads_5805First, the girls received a worksheet to help them guess how long it would take to stop a car at specific speeds and road conditions.  Then they got to see first hand (via the driving simulator) how dangerous it is to text and drive.


Women from ConnectFive, a user experience company, led another activity. Girls built a bridge after reviewing a user persona to learn about designing for different audiences.


As you can see, the girls came up with some pretty creative solutions!

Interactive Activities Demonstrate Engineering and Computer Programming Concepts

Twice during the day, girls split into two groups for some programming and engineering activities. They learned about programming concepts using Spheros led by Sarah Mascher Wallace.


During the Spheros activity, girls divided into groups and experimented directing the ball with simple instructions from one point to another, using a block programming and iPads.

Girls also learned about engineering with an activity led by Project Lead the Way students Abigail and Catherine from Iowa City West High School. Abigail and Catherine, along with three other girl-volunteers led an activity called “Protect the Pringle.”


This activity challenged the girls to package a single Pringle so the contraption could withstand three secret tests (a fall, heavy weight and be submerged underwater). First, teams of girls were given a large strip of masking tape and some sheets of paper.


Then Abigail and Catherine tested each team’s package.


Of course, there were a few Pringle packages that didn’t survive at first. The girls got a second chance to protect the Pringle, now that they knew the challenges.

Learning About Architecture

During lunch, all the girls learned about architecture from Amber von Arb and Callah Nelson from Neumann Monson Architects of Iowa City. The girls had lots of great questions about architecture, like “What is your favorite project?” Girls also learned about which high school classes could help them if they are interested in pursuing architecture as a career.


Neumann Monson Architects and Design Engineers generously sponsored lunch, which we purchased at a discounted rate from HyVee on North Dodge.

Afternoon Activities

After lunch, the girls split into three groups again for afternoon activities.


All girls went to the Advanced Manufacturing lab and learned about welding. Girls donned safety gear and used virtual welders. Girls even did some tack welding (with the assistance of high school students) to make creative sculptures they could take home.


Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) taught girls about how DNA can influence a person’s physical features. Girls then extracted DNA from a strawberry.


The girls extracted a solution that would help separate the DNA from the fruit and inserted it with the crushed strawberry.

The plastic bag is cut, and the strawberry pours into the test tube through the funnel. After a while, the foamy bit – the DNA – rises to the top.


The girls even got to take a sample of the DNA they extracted home with them in a tiny test tube!


Medical students from the Carver College of Medicine led activities medical-themed with the girls.The girls learned how to use a stethoscope and cast their own finger.

msap_1416They also tried out the minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery simulator.

Here’s a photo of all of our girls this year!