More than 250 Chicago-area middle school and high school girls will perform hands-on experiments and tour Evanston campus laboratories Saturday, Feb. 28, during a Northwestern University career workshop designed to encourage young women to consider engineering in their education and career choices.

The 38th annual Career Day for Girls will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road.

The outreach program is sponsored by Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the University’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

McCormick alumna Eva McGoey, senior manager, Health Care Service Corporation, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will kick off the program with a keynote address from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. in the Technological Institute’s Ryan Family Auditorium.

An engineering design competition, laboratory tours, hands-on experiments, a goal-setting workshop focusing on different engineering majors, and separate panel discussions for students and parents will follow. Throughout the day, young women will have an opportunity to meet current women engineering students and alumnae.

In the design competition, teams of five will use rubber bands, popsicle sticks, paper cups, paper clips and tape to build a prototype of a self-propelled car and have it “park” itself into a cup, from 9:45 to 10:20 a.m., at the Ryan Family Auditorium.

Students participating in activities to be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will observe dancing electrons at extremely low temperatures in high magnetic fields; learn how strength and toughness are measured and how metals “remember” their original shape when they are heated or cooled; make paperweights out of concrete; and view demonstrations of chemistry’s explosions and wonders and a spinning bicycle wheel that defies gravity.

In hands-on afternoon sessions, from 1:15 to 3 p.m., high school students will create a bionic arm using various materials while middle school students will rotate through three different activities, one of which is to try and solve a simulated oil spill situation — activities that will expose the students to aspects of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering.

Career Day has been held at Northwestern annually since 1970, when only 4 percent of the students in the McCormick School were women. Today, nearly one-third of McCormick students are women.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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