LEWISBURG — Layla Fowler looked intently at the wire in her hands, squished it into Play-Doh and with the opposite end connected to a battery and a second wire already in place, created an electric circuit that caused a two tiny LED lights in the modeling compound to glow.
Audrey Remener watched closely as her friend and fellow Daisy Girl Scout completed the task and attempted to do the same. The 5-year-olds were among more than 400 girls to attend the third annual STEAM Expo hosted by Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA on Saturday at Bucknell University.
“This is our very first event for our new Troop,” Fowler’s mother, Melinda Milheim, of Milton, said of the Turbotville Daisies.
“They’ve both been standing here for 10 minutes,” said Remener’s mother, Melinda.
“It’s kind of hard to get them away from it,” Milheim said.
The expo seeks to encourage girls' interest in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM). There were 36 separate exhibits sponsored by varied companies and organizations. More than 210 Girl Scout employees and volunteers helped at the event. The Girl Scouts ranged in age from 5 to 18.
“For our nation to excel in science, math, engineering, we have to be a talent-based society. We have to encourage girls” to explore all facets of STEAM, said Janet Donovan, the newly hired president and CEO of the Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA.
Donovan is a retired rear admiral of the U.S. Navy. She said it’s imperative to ensure girls are encouraged to be go-getters, risk-takers and leaders.
“We can’t ignore half the population,” Donovan said.
Emily Bayuk, 21, a junior electrical engineering major at Bucknell University, volunteered at the Lewisburg Children's Museum stand where girls were creating electric circuits and building batteries. Bayuk wrote and illustrated her own children’s book to teach kids about electric currents, circuits and switches.
“Girls aren’t as prevalent in electrical engineering,” Bayuk said, pointing out that she’s just one of three women pursuing the major in her graduating class. “This helps remove the intimidation-factor of handling electricity.”
Bayuk was a Gold Award winner as a Girl Scout, said Amy Mountain, director of communications for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA. So, too, was another exhibitor: Leslie Thompson, a zookeeper with Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland.
Thompson held a reptile, the Blue Tongue Skink, for girls to touch and examine up close. She created a curriculum of badges Girl Scouts at all levels can earn. Her own Gold Award was in animal care.
“That directly relates to what I do now,” Thompson said.