On June 3rd, SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention and the Women in Leadership Group at EnerSys, came together to host the Museum’s first ever Girls Night at the Museum. This STEM focused event was attended by over 40 girls and women and supported by 11 volunteers from Alpha/EnerSys and the Museum. The team was driven by two main goals; create STEM opportunities for girls in Whatcom County and cultivate and strengthen community partnerships.
“This is the first event of its type we’ve hosted at the Museum,” says Abby Whatley, the Director of Programs at the Museum. “And we quickly realized the need in this community for girl/women focused STEM events.” This event was sold out in just hours, in fact, “we didn’t even have time to print the flyers before we had to close registration!”
It’s not uncommon for girls to have a strong interest in science through elementary school and then begin to drop that interest as they reach middle school. There are so many factors that contribute to this; social pressures, access issues, challenges with self-esteem, a lack of positive role models, the list goes on. Part of combatting this and ensuring the girls stay interested as long as they can or want to, is creating pressure free environments where they are free to practice STEM skills and be around other women and girls pursuing similar interests and passions. This helps set them up for a present and a future in which they can see themselves as scientists, or engineers and pursue those interests freely.
The Activity for this event was a simple Engineering Design project, and a big part of the engineering process is testing and refining your design for the best possible outcomes. A process that applies to events as well as engineering. “There are definitely things we will be improving for the next event, but it was a really great success thanks to the amazing team and a great group of girls who attended demonstrating confidence, courage, and an aptitude for learning,” says Susan Hofstetter, one of the volunteers and coordinators from Alpha/EnerSys.
The other triumph of this event was a celebration of community partnerships. This event was made possible by a generous sponsorship from the Women in Leadership group from EnerSys. “As a company Alpha/EnerSys is striving to be more present in the communities where we work,” says Susan Hofstetter Senior Project Coordinator at Alpha/Enersys. And it was that desire that kicked off the event in the first place. The Women in Leadership group and the SPARK Museum share many similar goals and values, so a partnership seemed like a natural fit.
Community partnerships are vital to successful and sustainable programming and are mutually beneficial for the corporations and non-profits involved. “This program allowed for increased brand exposure while expanding the programs of the Museum and strengthening our voice for advocacy,” says Susan. For small not-for profit institutions like the SPARK Museum, corporate sponsorships, and partnerships like this one are a vital to improving programs and services. Both the SPARK Museum and Alpha/Enersys are looking forward to the future and other partnership opportunities. “I want to encourage other businesses to look at their resources and invest in their communities through corporate sponsorships,” says Susan. “At Alpha/EnerSys, so many opportunities have opened by taking this first step. Funding an exhibit, renting the facility for corporate events, and sponsoring more community Museum events are all future undertakings made possible by this partnership.”