Girls learning new skills

Zoey Cardoza wouldn’t have attended the STEMazing Race Challenge on Saturday if her friend, Anastassia Hofer, hadn’t talked her into coming along.

“My dad’s always trying to get me to do something like this,” said Zoey, a freshman at Minot High School-Central Campus. “But I don’t listen to my dad.”

Every year, the Minot Public Schools runs an event aimed at introducing girls to the high school’s vocational and technical classes, such as welding, auto mechanics, auto body and building trades. Anastassia, a sophomore at Central Campus, attends the event every year.

“I like the idea of girls being able to do (what some people consider) a guy’s job,” said Anastassia.

Zoey said the event was fun and she was glad she signed up. Her favorite activity was welding, which scared her a little bit at first but turned out to be fun.

On Saturday, Anastassia, Zoey and two other girls, Jim Hill Middle School eighth-grader Emily Lowther and Central Campus freshman Tucker Lawrence, were using iPads to work on a welding scenario.

In other parts of the Minot High Vocational and Technical Center, girls were testing out the push cars they were building, welding their team name into a push bar and using the paint booth. In the afternoon, the girls raced the push cars they had built in teams of four. The car with the fastest time won.

Jami DeCent, auto tech instructor, said the event gave the girls experience in designing the push car, measuring and cutting two-by-fours and assembling the vehicles as well as welding and painting. The girls also had to give an oral presentation on their projects.

This was the first year the school district held the STEMazing Race Challenge with a push car race. In other years, the event has been called Diva Tech Day and didn’t include the same activities.

“I think this is the most fun one we’ve had,” said Pam Stroklund, CTE director.

The events are funded by a grant and introduce girls to non-traditional careers for women.

Stroklund said the event also emphasized skills that are required by the new Common Core and included various prizes.

About 36 eighth- through 11th-graders took part in the event Saturday. On average, about three to four girls have signed up for the district’s building trades, welding, auto mechanics and auto body classes after participating in Diva Tech. DeCent said he hopes more girls will sign up for next year’s classes after the STEMazing Race Challenge.