Luther Burbank Middle School Girls Visit Tesla For Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day

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(Photo courtesy of Steven Hubbell)

A group of female students from Luther Burbank Middle School stopped by Tesla’s Burbank facility in honor of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Tesla teamed up with the nonprofit Envirolution to provide the event for the 30 students, who were accompanied by Luther teacher Jessica Schackne. The pupils are seventh and eighth graders, and they all possess an interest in the fields of engineering or science, or both subjects. Luther maintains a strong engineering program, and several of the young scholars have previously participated in a yearlong elective presented by the school called Exploring Engineering. Additionally, some have taken S.T.E.A.M. for the Future after-school courses, which cover the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math.

The Luther Burbank Parent Teacher Student Association supported the field trip by paying to transport the group to their destination by bus. The day started with Tesla employees welcoming the invitees to the solar energy facility and offering “Engineer Like a Girl” baseball hats to every student. Next, staffers spoke about their individual professional journeys in solar engineering, the importance of engineering in Tesla’s success, and the lack of female engineers in the industry. As reported by the job site Zippia in 2022, approximately 84% of United States engineers are male, while about only 16% are female.

The girls also carried out a hands-on exercise in which they used a battery, paper clips, copper wire and a magnet to make a working motor. After Tesla served the guests lunch, they took a tour of the facility, were informed about Tesla’s solar energy products and got an up close and personal look at the features of the company’s Model X car. 

(Photo courtesy of Steven Hubbell)

Some highlights of the girls’ trip were hearing about the wide-ranging academic degrees possessed by women Tesla employees, as well as witnessing the inner workings of the automotive company’s location, Schackne stated.

“The girls were very excited to be a part of this day,” Schackne said. “They learned a lot about the company and about engineering in general. They got to see how part of the facility is set up with computers, and the other part was a huge warehouse for parts and projects.”

She added, “The students enjoyed working hands-on with the employees who took time out of their day to work with them to build their battery-powered motors and give a tour of the facility.”

Schackne teaches science and technology for sixth graders, and engineering, computer science, and advanced art for seventh and eighth graders at Luther. The dedicated instructor shared that she felt elated about playing a role in the middle schoolers gaining an in-depth educational outing they won’t soon forget.

“I was thrilled to be able to help facilitate this experience for the students,” Schackne said. “I think it’s so important to highlight engineering for everyone, but especially for girls. One part of engineering is failing and then fixing what made the fail happen. The girls got to experience this firsthand with their hands-on experience. They had to use problem-solving skills, teamwork, and perseverance to get the device to work correctly.” 

(Photo courtesy of Steven Hubbell)

Furthermore, Schackne believes the classmates walked away with a greater awareness of the fact that professional engineering roles for women are within close reach.

“I think it inspired them by having a real-world experience that was out of the classroom,” Schackne added.  “It also made an impact that this experience is right around the corner from where they live and go to school. Knowing that these opportunities are available will help the girls know that they have an exciting chance to use their interest in engineering to make a difference in the world.”