Girls’ Day 2021: primary school introduced to BioMechanical Engineering
An operating robot inspired by the strength and movements of an animal. And an extremely strong human bone, the largest part of which resembles a sponge. During Girls’ Day 2021, Aimée Sakes and Eline Kolken (assistant professor and PhD student in BioMechanical Engineering) introduced pupils from the ages of 10 to 12 to the world of BioMechanical Engineering.
On 15 April 2021, they gave an online guest lesson to 70 pupils from the ages of 10 to 12 from the ‘De Twee Wieken’ primary school in Zwijndrecht. This was part of national Girls' Day: an initiative by VHTO for girls aged 10 to 15 with the aim of getting girls interested in STEM at an early age.
By means of a video link with the classroom, Aimée Sakes and Eline Kolken explained what they were interested in at that age and which path they followed to get to the profession they now practise. And of course they introduced the students in an accessible way to the world of mechanical engineering and especially to biomechanical engineering. With a small test, quiz and question round, the students were interactively involved in the lesson. ‘You have shown us such amazing inventions. It was a varied and instructive digital lesson. The children loved it,’ said one of the teachers at the school.
Women are still under-represented in the technology classrooms and related professions. Girls’ Day is an annual event where thousands of girls across the country visit companies and institutions involved in STEM and IT. This is an accessible way for the girls to get to know what this sector has to offer, meet female employees and get a better idea of their own potential. Eline Kolken: ‘I think it’s extremely important that children at a young age know what options are available. I am secretly jealous. I would have been very interested in this guest lesson as a 12-year-old.’ Aimée Sakes underscores the importance of Girls’ Day: ‘I really enjoyed making the pupils enthusiastic about technology, and I hope more girls will end up going for it!’
Faculty 3mE has long been committed to increasing (gender) diversity in the intake of new students. For example, each year a Girls' Challenge is organized at the faculty (in 2020 online due to corona). For the first time, this year the faculty participated in the national Girls' Day. A big advantage was the reach of a normally hard to reach target group (girls aged 10 to 12). The faculty hopes to stimulate these girls at a young age, even before they choose a profile at secondary school, to choose a direction in engineering.