Elementary School Girls and Colorado State University Women Team Up for Snow Sled Engineering Contest

Note to Editors: Media are welcome to attend the warm-up session and contest at 10 a.m. Feb. 14 at Pine Ridge Open Space Park in Fort Collins. Media may interview participants and take photographs or film footage. The contest will be rescheduled if there is no snow. Call (970) 491-8255 on Feb. 13 to find out if the event has been rescheduled.

Members of Colorado State University’s Society of Women Engineers will join forces with fourth, fifth and sixth-grade girls to test the students’ engineering and design skills in the third annual snow sled contest on Feb. 14.

The contest is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Pine Ridge Open Space Park in Fort Collins, snow permitting. More than 30 girls from Beattie Elementary School in Fort Collins are participating in the project, which is designed to boost girls’ interest in engineering.

"The girls have a wonderful time designing and building their sleds," said Sue James, organizer and assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State. "They get an idea of what engineering is and how much fun it can be. They also have an opportunity to work with engineers."

The girls were divided into teams and worked after school to design the sleds with the help of Colorado State engineering students and other adult volunteers. The teams used wood, plastic sheets, inflatable rafts, foam, wax, old skis, rope, oars, plastic pipe and other materials to build the sleds. While designing the sleds, the girls learned about engineering concepts including friction, aerodynamics, strength and stiffness.

The contest will be judged by professional engineers and a grand prize will be given to the team with the best overall design. In addition, prizes will be given to each team with the most points in each of the following categories: fastest time down the alpine course, most maneuverable on the slalom course and the safest. After the contest, judges will discuss design aspects with participants.

Event sponsors include Colorado State’s Society of Women Engineers, Dow Chemical, FiberLok, Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, Lockheed Martin, The National Science Foundation and Woodward Governor.