Snow and sleds don’t necessarily go together.
At least, that’s true for the fourth-grade students who
participated in the Society of Women Engineers’ Ninth Annual Sled
Building Contest this Saturday on the Oval.
While the teams were unable to race their sleds in the mild,
56-degree weather, judging of the sleds’ designs and building
qualities still took place.
Four- to five-girl teams from elementary schools in Fort Collins
and Loveland spent 20 hours designing and building the sleds. The
society met with local schools in early January and opened the
competition to any girls interested.
For the competitors, it was clearly a team effort.
“We chose the ones that would work best and combined them all,”
said Nola Catlow, a member of the Pretty Pink Penguins team from
Tavelli Elementary. Also on her team were Danielle Billingsley,
Andie Janicki, Gabrielle McMorrow and Patrice Stockover. Their sled
won the prize for the best steering system.
Sarah Bibbey, Danielle Fritz, Olivia Klinzman and Leah Lashley
from Cache La Poudre Elementary build a sled with an uncanny
resemblance to a Chihuahua. The driver’s helmet featured pointy
ears and bug-out eyes. They named their sled “Buddy” and with it
claimed the prize for most ingenious design.
“We wanted to introduce young women in elementary school to the
engineering concept,” said Omnia El-Hakim, the adviser for the
Society of Women Engineers (SWE). “And we wanted our CSU students
who were acting as mentors to guide and lead them. They were role
models for them.”
Being a role model to their team is something that the mentors
saw as most important.
“(The goal was) to outreach to the younger generation,” said
Kelley Zuehlsdorff, a junior mechanical engineering major and
mentor for the Pretty Pink Penguins. “All the girls believe they
can’t do the science and math. We’re here to show them that they
can do it as well as anyone else.”
El-Hakim said SWE gets a grant as well as support from local
businesses to fund the event.
“We try to get the girls to do as much of the building as they
can,” Zuehlsdorff said. “We make sure they use the power drills all
the time. It’s really important for them to see us use the saws so
they know they can do it later on, too.”
Her team also got to see some welding done on its steering
system, something the team pointed out specifically when asked
about their sled.
El-Hakim said the event was very successful.
“Everyone is happy and smiling. They did a fantastic job,” she