Environmental Engineering

Last month, we were joined by three women engineers from Arcadis, a leading design & engineering firm that works with natural and built assets all over the globe. We learned about their individual journeys through STEM and the work they do now helping other companies prevent damage and clean up accidents in the environment.

The engineers challenged us to design and create our own water remediation systems using a water bottle and different types of filtering substances. We tested many different versions of our filters with contaminated water, tracked the cost of materials, and put together a proposal – just like they would do for a potential client.

Then one week later, we got to visit the Arcadis offices in person!

There, we met five more women engineers who each shared their background and projects. We learned about microbes that eat harmful chemicals, conserving energy at a water treatment plant in Atlanta, vacuums that suck contaminants out of the soil, environmentally-friendly mining, and how engineers work together to make it all happen.

It was an inspiring, eye-opening field trip that helped us better understand what it really means to be an engineer.

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Today we were joined by STEM School's very own Dr. Jennifer Campbell-Smith, a high school science teacher and ornithologist (bird scientist). Dr. Campbell-Smith has a Bachelor's degree in Zoology and a PhD in Biological Sciences. She has extensive research experience and knowledge in studying social behavior of wild American crows. She and her husband also practice falconry!

From Dr. Jenn, we learned all about the rich history and modern practice of falconryβ€”which UNESCO has designated a living, Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. She shared her own fascinating experiences of training birds and hunting with them, as well as the accomplishments of other women falconers in this male dominated sport. Her passion and knowledge were truly inspiring. Thank you Dr. Jenn!

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Chris Packham puts a northern goshawk through its paces in the lab.

Holiday STEM Crafts

Today we built our very own buzz bots using a toothbrush head, coin vibration motor, and coin cell battery. Along the way we explored electric circuits and prototyping to arrive at our own unique designs and figure out how to improve the bots' sense of direction, speed, and overall bling.

Then we continued flexing our prototyping muscles (and taste buds) with a gingerbread building contest. A delicious, creative challenge!

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Happy holidays from Girls in STEM!


Today we talked with Michelle Lim about her experiences as a web developer and freelance business owner. We also learned about "web apps" and how they work, including the difference between "front-end" (client) and "back-end" (server) development.

To illustrate this, we played with some data from giphy.com by fetching GIFs directly from their servers and displaying them in our own front-end program. Our program requested GIFs through Giphy's API, and used them to generate a one-of-a-kind music video in a web browser.

music video experiment 2.gif

We then explored another, very practical use of programming - the need and algorithm for barcode validation through a checksum.

>> Spot the bug in this code: Barcode Checksum Program

Hint: Even if you have never coded before, you should still be able to spot it by knowing this algorithm.

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Today we met two awesome engineers from ViaSat satellite internet company: Shelly Sousa (also a Girls in STEM board member!) and Andrew Locke.

We got hands-on experience connecting a satellite dish to an actual satellite in space, and explored coding with a raspberry pi that was hooked up to actual fruit and programmed to play sounds in response to being touched!

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Bioengineering & Assistive Technologies

Today we welcome Dr. Cathy Bodine, a Professor of Bioengineering at CU Denver and an internationally recognized leader in the field of assistive technology!

What I love about my job...

"I work with an amazing group of faculty and staff who focus on technology for people with disabilities. We help people who may not be able to walk, talk, use their hands or have cognitive problems be successful through the use of technology.  The future of technology and disability is really exciting and we know what needs to be done.  My primary job is to make sure the resources are available to accomplish our goals.  My second job is to get out of the way so our faculty and staff can do what they need to do. Our team is phenomenal!"

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Learning about Socially Assistive Robots!

We had the chance to experience using and programming communication devices for speech assistance.