Use This Lesson Plan to Introduce Girls to Engineering

A former engineer for Mack Trucks, Heather Krey knows why it’s so important to put the goals of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day into action and bring engineering to girls in the K–12 classroom. To Krey, reading AAUW’s research report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics “was like reading the story of my life — why it was so hard to stay in [engineering] and why I eventually left.” Today, she is thinking about ways to change the climate, starting with the way girls learn about engineering in school.

In 2013, Krey submitted the winning lesson plan in our inaugural Battle of the Plans: Engineer a Lesson contest. The contest encourages teachers to bring engineering concepts into the K–12 classroom with dynamic and interactive lesson plans. Engineering is not typically a part of classroom instruction before college, but since the number of women engineering graduates recently hit a 15-year low, it has become more important than ever to introduce girls to engineering.

Krey’s winning lesson plan, Fifth-Graders Can Be Industrial Engineers, Too! A Greeting Card Assembly Line, teaches girls what it’s like to be an industrial engineer through a creative activity that models assembly-line production. The plan, which Krey designed especially for the contest, was inspired by an activity in a class that Krey took while she was studying industrial engineering at Lehigh University. Learning about the work that engineers perform through a hands-on activity was so inspiring to Krey that she still remembered it clearly 20 years later. “It engaged both my mind and body, it modeled the real world, and it allowed me to discover the knowledge rather than simply cover it in a class,” Krey says.

Download the Fifth-Graders Can Be
Industrial Engineers, Too! lesson plan

The lesson plan busts stereotypes about engineering by bringing art and STEM together. “Engineering has so much to do with creation and designing new things,” Krey says. In fact, there is an engineering job perfect for just about any set of skills and interests a girl may have.

Krey tried out her plan with her Girl Scout troop in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and reports that the activity was a success. She encourages teachers to adapt her plan for students in any grade and take the opportunity to talk to students about engineering. Download the plan and introduce a girl to engineering in your classroom today!