"How many people in here like math and science?" asked Monica Cutillo, president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) of Greater Syracuse.
Nearly every hand in the brightly lit room shoots up toward the pink, purple and blue butterflies dangling from the ceiling. Cutillo clasps her hands together and lets out a sigh of delight.
"My heart is so happy," she says with a smile.
Thus began Junior Girl Scout Engineering Day at the Girl Scout Promise Center in Cicero. Volunteers from the local professional chapter of SWE, as well as the collegiate chapter at Syracuse University, hosted the event. The Junior Girl Scouts formed groups and rotated to stations where the volunteers had designed simple experiments in various forms of engineering.
Cutillo, a Girl Scout troop leader and an assistant engineer at Bristol-Meyers Squibb, said SWE has held annual engineering events with the Girl Scouts of Central New York for more than 20 years. Activities like this one promote the Girl Scouts of the USA Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, which give girls hands-on experience and teaches them about career opportunities.
The girls wiggle and bounce in their chairs with anticipation. They will be making Glop, a gooey substance similar to silly putty, for their first experiment. They have just reviewed what the three forms of matter are: solid, liquid and gas.
A volunteer instructs them to put on bright purple latex gloves. The girls are then told to pour half a cup of cornstarch into each of the three neon-green plastic bowls before them. They proceed diligently, peering over the tops of the measuring cups trying to make sure the amount is just right, not noticing the white powder they are spilling all over the table in the process. They add a quarter cup of water to each of the bowls and begin to stir.