Katie Weber is an 8th grader from McMillan Junior High School

My favorite project that I have done in STEM so far were the leaf blower powered hovercrafts that we made towards the end of the year. The building process was so much fun for me and for my teammates.
Each group split up the jobs and used each others strengths to their advantage. The job choices were Electrical Engineer, the teammate who controls the power cord, Test Pilot, the teammate who rides the hovercraft first, Structural Engineer, the integrity of the ship, and lastly the Parts Manager & Team Leader, who manages the team and the building.
We started out with a big piece of wood that was 48 inches lengthwise, with 23.75 inches for the width so it was big enough to hold a person on top of it. The depth of the board was .5 inches.
The groups then had to measure where to place the leaf blower slot and measure how much skirting we would need to use on the bottom of the hovercraft. The cut out for the leaf blower was 3.5 by 2 inches. We placed the hole 4 inches from the top of the board, and 10.25 inches from the sides of the board.
The skirting of the hovercraft had an inch overlap on the top of the hovercraft and a 3 inch drop on each side. We stapled and taped the skirting down to the board to make sure no air could escape from the sides. The total amount of skirting was 57 inches by 32.75 inches.We then had to find the volume and the surface area of the skirting.
After the skirting was put on and secured, we had to cut holes and screw a wooden block into the bottom to ensure that the air would make the hovercraft float and slide.
Once all that was done, we were allowed to ride it. We blew up the skirting by holding the leaf blower in the hole, centered near the top, that we drilled into the wood. Someone from our team had to lightly push on us to make the hovercraft start moving since there was no engine to push it. The hovercraft was so much fun to ride. It felt like we were gliding when the hoverboard was in motion.
On the second day after completing our hovercrafts we got to go into the gym to all ride our hovercrafts together and it was a complete blast. After we had finished testing and perfecting the hovercraft, we had to create a blueprint of the front and back of the hovercraft. I used a 1⁄3 scale and drew my measurements in cm to make the board fit onto the paper.

Sarah Griffeth is an 8th grader at McMillan Junior High school

S.T.E.M is a very male dominated field so when coming into an S.T.E.M class I had many concerns. I didn’t know if I was going to be as good as the guys. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get my ideas through. I was very scared to go into something I loved doing, because it is a male dominated field. Walking in on the first day was very nerve wracking. There were seven girls and twenty guys. To most people that would seem like nothing, but being so out place and so unwelcomed is the hardest thing ever. Walking in thinking you have to prove something and make everyone change your mind about what they might have thought about you/me. I knew I was going to have fun, but was going to have to work hard.

The first project we did in S.T.E.M was when we had to create a 3D model of our classroom. For the 3D model we got to choose our partners and I remember sitting there not knowing anyone thinking I was going to have to work alone. Then one guy walked up to me and sat down and said nothing. I was so excited because this was the time where I can prove myself and show everyone that I can do it. We had two weeks and 5-7 file holders. The first thing we ever had to do was get all measurements of the room, all turns, small walls,
cabinets, anything that outlined the room. It was hard because every measurement had to be 100% on point. My partner and I agreed that he would measure the walls and I would draw a blueprint and write the measurements. Even though we agreed he would do the measurements after school I went back and made sure everything was correct. When talking about who would do what it struck me that guys don’t trust girls with the more important part because if one small thing is off then it affects the whole project. After two days of measuring the whole room and double checking all measurements we started the building phase. Building the model room was very important to me because I love building things hands on… My partner and I decided that I would be the one in charge of building and cutting precise measurements. The first thing we did was put together the walls, then the floors. If I could go back and change one thing I would reverse what we did first. Trying to make the outline out of the walls for the floor was very hard.
To put everything together we could only use glue, hot glue, and some tape. Working with glue and tape was hard because there was no guarantee that they would stay. With hot glue it was a little sturdier and would stick the materials together in a better way. Putting all the walls and floors together was fun for me…After building the walls and floors, we had to build every small detail in the room. This was the most challenging part because we had to create very small models of every cabinet, table, cart, box, and chair.
It was a lot of small details that made the model stand out. Trying to build every small thing was hard because we had to account for every fold we have to make and how much space we need to add glue or tape so it would stick together. Making every small detail and putting in a lot of effort showed the guys that I’m just as good as them and can be better. After putting everything together and every detail in our model we were done. I didn’t care about what grade we got or whose was better, but the fact that I proved to myself that I can do this and I’m just as good as the guys.

Next Contest

Stay tuned for our next contest coming up in the fall! We will be restarting our science writing contest, so keep coming back and stay connected with us on social media! Let the girls grades 7th – 12th grade know that they have a chance to speak their mind on STEM.
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About the Founder & CEO

Dr. Koshi Dhingra has dedicated her career to STEM education and is passionate about having every child live up to their potential. Seeing a lack of girls and other underrepresented youth in STEM programs, she founded talkSTEM in 2015 to address the imbalance. She has a doctorate in science education from Teachers College, Columbia University, has years of experience teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs, and has held leadership roles in universities. She advises and collaborates with a broad range of educational institutions globally. Dr. Dhingra began her career teaching science in middle and high school in New York. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs.


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