2012 Operation SMART Program

The 2012 Operation SMART program was the first program of its kind in the Wood Buffalo region and the first program developed by BrainSTEM Alliance.

The program hosted 8 girls aged 11-14 and ran for 7 Saturdays from October 13th, 2012 to December 1st, 2012.

Session # Date Session Topic
1 13-Oct-12 Intro to Engineering/Problem Solving Engineers as Problem Solvers
2 20-Oct-12 Mechanical Engineering Potential & Kinetic Energy
3 27-Oct-12 Aeronautical Engineering Methods of Flight
4 3-Nov-12 Chemical Engineering Chemical Reactions & Process Engineering Techniques
10-Nov-12 NO CLASS
5 17-Nov-12 Mining and Petroleum Engineering A Glimpse at the Oil Sands Process
6 24-Nov-12 Civil Engineering Building Stable Structures
7 1-Dec-12 Environmental Engineering Engineering for a Greater Good

10 female engineers volunteers for different weeks of the program and acting as mentors to the girls in the program.

Week 1: Introduction

In the first week the girls were introduced to the engineering design process, project management concepts and a first look at different engineering disciplines.

To learn project management, the girls were tasked to build a structure as tall as possible with just newspaper. The girls discussed and planned for 10 minutes to build their tower. they were then tasked to build a second tower with newspaper and tape, but only given 2 minutes to build. This activity taught the girls the concept of material vs. time. vs. scope for projects.

The girls then applied engineering design concepts for an egg drop challenge; designing a contraption that will protect an egg from a fall of a certain height. The girls had to work within a limited time frame with a specified pool of materials to choose from.

Finally girls were given a brief introduction to each engineering discipline. They were then randomly assigned a discipline and a product and asked to discuss how they could use that engineering discipline to improve that product. The girls came up with some clever ideas!

Week 2: Mechanical Engineering

In the second week, the girls were introduced to the concepts of potential and kinetic energy as well as the idea of friction force. To demonstrate this the girls build their own mini roller-coasters, calculating the height needed for their marbles to get to a certain speed, as well as using friction to get their marble to stop.

Reinforcing the potential and kinetic energy lessons, the girls then went on to build elastic band and balloon powered cars.

Week 3: Aeronautical Engineering

In week 3, the girls were introduced to a view of forces as they relate to aeronautical engineering, and did activities showing thrust, drag, lift and weight. Activities included making paper rockets and planes, helicopters and parachutes to see how forces of air can affect movement.

Week 4: Chemical and Materials Engineering

In Week 4, the girls were introduced to the concept of materials engineering, discussing the material used for different objects and how they help that object serve a certain function.

They went on to discuss the properties of glue, borax and water and how when those materials are combined they form a chemical reaction that creates a new material with completely different properties.

The girls did a second chemical reaction mixing lye and oils to make soap. They learned about exothermic vs. endothermic reactions are their mixture produced heat when the reactants combined.

Finally the girls learned about chemical engineering process of scale-up, discussing which equipment they may use to complete their reactions on a large scale and drawing their own process flow diagrams.

Week 5: Mining/Petroleum Engineering

In Week 5, the girls took a field trip to the Oil Sands Discovery Centre. They did a scavenger hunt of the facility, learning about the oil sands mining and extraction processes, then had a chance to do an oil sands extraction activity themselves.

Week 6: Civil Engineering

In Week 6, the girls learned about stable structures when they made a newspaper bridge and marshmallow towers. They learned that triangles are the strongest shape and tested them on a jello earthquake. The girls also had an introduction to some geotechnical engineering concepts when they built and tested their own clay tunnel.

Week 7: Environmental Engineering

In the 7th and final week the girls learned about applying engineering to help the environment. They learned about the different aspects of a filter and built their own sand and gravel filter to clean dirty water.

The girls then learned about the recycling process and how we can re-use paper to create new paper. The girls made their own recycled paper and drew PFDs for the paper recycling process.

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