Countdown to White House Science Fair: Meet Girl Scout Troop 2612 -- Bridge Designers, STEM Enthusiasts

We’re geeking out about the upcoming fourth-ever Science Fair here at the White House this Tuesday, May 27, 2014. We are prepping the halls for wall-to-wall gizmos, gadgets, robots, apps, and science projects – and the amazing kids who created them. To share our excitement about the Fair – and its focus this year on young women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) – we’ll spend the next few days introducing you to some of the stellar STEM females who are packing up their inventions and research projects and headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Girl Scout Troop 2612 – including Avery Dodson, 7; Natalie Hurley, 8; Miriam Schaffer, 8; Claire Winton, 8; and Lucy Claire Sharp, 8 – put their preparedness skills into action as part of the Junior FIRST Lego League’s Disaster Blaster Challenge. The Challenge invites thousands of elementary-school-aged students from across the country to explore how simple machines, motorized parts, engineering, and math can help solve problems posed by natural disasters like floods or earthquakes.

Recalling the recent, damaging summer floods in Estes Park, Colorado, the Troop noticed that first responders weren’t able to easily reach certain communities because bridges had been washed out – and set out to design a solution. The girls invented the “Flood Proof Bridge,” and built a model of their idea – not only mechanizing the bridge using motors and the correct gear ratios, but also developing, from scratch, a simple computer program to automatically retract the bridge when flood conditions are detected by a motion sensor in the river bed.

We asked a few members of the Oklahoma-based Girl Scout Troop some questions about their project and love of all things STEM:

What is the coolest thing about science, engineering, and inventing?

  • Lucy Claire McGarrah Sharp, age 8: “It’s fun because it brightens up my day and I love the creativity. When I realize all the right places for gears, for example, I realize in my heart that it’s my thing to do, like my talent.”
  • Claire Winton, age 8: “The coolest thing about inventing is you can make practically anything you want.”
  • Avery Dodson, age 8: “Engineering and inventing is cool because you get to solve real problems that real people have. Sometimes the solution is easy, but sometimes it’s pretty hard.”

Why do you think it’s so important that everyone participate in science – especially girls?

  • Lucy Claire: “Girls are brave and can do anything. It is important for girls to do science and lots of awesome stuff (just like boys do) because that is what will help solve the world’s problems.”
  • Claire: “It’s important so that everyone can learn and be ready for the future.”
  • Avery: “I think it’s important because girls shouldn’t be left out and should have adventures too… We need to tell girls that they can have adventures too, and science and inventing can be a cool adventure.”

What inspires you? How do you hope to inspire others?

  • Lucy Claire: “I am inspired when I read about biographies of women who have made things…I hope to inspire others by doing science and engineering and inventing so that girls can believe in themselves.” 
  • Claire: “I think about what I need to solve a problem; I would like to talk to other people about inventing.”
  • Avery: “I love seeing other people invent cool stuff. I’ve been reading about inventors like Kellogg, Levi Strauss, and Bette Nesmith Graham in school, they all invented really cool stuff that we use every day. I want to inspire others by letting them play with my inventions. Our team is the “Lego Queens”, and we wear tiara’s because it’s cool to like girly stuff and building stuff at the same time.” 

What most excites you about presenting at the White House Science Fair?

  • Lucy Claire: “I am excited to get to meet President Barack Obama and that I will get to go into the White House… But I won’t just get to meet him, he and other people want to learn about my team’s invention. This is really exciting.
  • Claire: “It is such an honor to be there and to show the White House our invention.”
  • Avery: “I’m excited about coming to the White House and meeting the President. I also want to see what the other kids invented.” 

Stay tuned right here all week to meet more of the amazing young women participating in this year’s White House Science Fair, and join the conversation by tweeting “Throwback Thursday” photos of YOUR first science fair @whitehouseostp using #TBTScienceFair. 

Becky Fried is the Senior Communications Advisor and Web Editor at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.