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13 May April 23: Girlsday at the Faculty

Starting block sensor. Image: Lotte van Woudenberg

Every year the VTHO organizes Girlsday: a day to inform and motivate girls between the age of 10-15 to pursue an education and career in IT, engineering and science. The University of Amsterdam was one of the 310 places where girls could take a look inside the world of science. Read on to see what Girlsday looked like at the Faculty!

1 day, 310 science and engineering organisations and 8.825 girls
The goal of Girlsday is to excite girls for science and engineering in an inspiring and fun way! On this day, girls from many different schools visit organisations that are specialized in IT, engineering or science to do workshops. Activities can vary from chemistry experiments to controlling robots.

Why Girlsday?
Dutch girls are doing great! The huge increase in the number of university students in the Netherlands is attributable to the high performance of girls. Since 2006, there are overall more girls in university than boys. However, in technical studies girls are underrepresented. Only 5 % of girls in high school choose a program in science and engineering (Natuur en Techniek) and at technical universities like Delft and Eindhoven about 80% of the students are male. This indicates the substantial gender inequality that is present in the technology sector. Girlsday is part of a program from the Dutch government to improve the connection between education and the labor market in the technology sector and to decrease the shortage of technical staff. There is especially much to gain on the side of the girls, since nowadays still very few girls start a career in science and engineering.

Girl power at the faculty
So, what did the UvA do to get girls hooked on science? About 120 girls participated in an activity at the Faculty. Two groups were introduced to programming in Scratch. Programming may sound quite challenging, especially for primary school kids, but Scratch has a very clear layout and works very intuitively. This program just breathes cheerfulness and fun,  I secretly can’t wait to try it out for myself (yes, I know it’s made for children). Although it sometimes was quite a struggle to get everything working, there was a lot of satisfaction when the girls were able to create and play their own computer game: pong. The game pong was one of the first videogames and is based on ping-pong. There are many online tutorials on how to make it, so enjoy!

Two other groups spent a part of the day at the university sports centre at Science park (Universum) to take part in the program “Wolves and cheetahs, what kind of athlete are you?”. The girls did several tests to find out whether they were a sprinter or a stayer. Besides a sprint test and an endurance test, there was also cool technical stuff like an advanced punching bag that measures the impact of your punch and a special starting blocks with a sensor that measured reaction time. The girls had lots of fun with the different games and also really enjoyed calculating their own maximum speed. It became pretty intense at some point!

What do you think of this initiative? Leave your questions and comments below!

WTF lotte

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WTF lotte

WTF lotte

Master student Biomolecular Neuroscience
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