Hello everyone, and happy March!

I’m not sure about all of you, but I know the winter darkness in the Pacific Northwest makes it hard for me to get out and stay active (it just makes me want to cuddle up inside with hot cocoa)! Fortunately, as winter comes to a close and spring is on the horizon, it’s time to ramp up plans for community outreach. That’s not to say outreach can’t take place year-round, as it most certainly does, but at least at the University of Washington, the biggest campus-wide K-12 STEM outreach event of the year takes place in April, and I can’t wait!

So… that prompts me to ask: what does outreach mean to you?

Outreach from a STEM perspective makes me think about how I can expose/promote the STEM to younger students in a fun/exciting way. Maybe we can explore some of the following fundamental science/engineering concepts:

  • What is density? Well, we can exploit differences in density between oil and water by making homemade lava lamps!
  • What is CO2? Well, we can make CO2 from the reaction of lemon juice and baking soda to blow-up balloons!
  • Everyone loves gummy bears… can we make them grow? Try submerging them in salt water or DI water and see what happens!

These are some of the basic activities I have enjoyed leading through various STEM outreach efforts over the past few years. I’m sure many of you have outreach programs already in place through your chapter of SWE, but here are some resources to help continue bringing your ideas to life:

  • Program Development Grants: The ExxonMobil Foundation provides funding to support strategic activities within SWE, which can support your outreach ideas! Explore this opportunity for more information about the application and general tips on outreach event planning.
  • Outreach-focused webinars: How can you increase your impact? How can you improve recruitment to your chapter? Have you ever thought about coordinating an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” Day? Check out these webinars for answers to these questions!
  • SWENext: This is a SWE-sponsored program for girls up to 18 years old. SWENext members have access to opportunities to invent, meet professional engineers near them, participate in club activities, and be recognized for their achievements in STEM! It would be great to spread word of SWENext at your upcoming outreach events.

Lastly, please remember that you can always contact the SWE Outreach Chair with questions/concerns, or potential outreach opportunities to be incorporated within the Society!

Happy (almost) spring break to everyone in school or involved in education on some other level!


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