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Area girls build interest, excitement in engineering through CHOICES

Lehigh University played host to over fifty aspiring female engineers from middle schools across the Lehigh Valley on Friday, March 1, testing their problem solving skills in activities from building balloon towers and chocolate composites to making the most of their time "shopping at the mall" during the 18th annual Spring CHOICES competition.

CHOICES (Charting Horizons and Opportunities in Careers in Engineering and Science) is a program designed to spark interest among middle-school girls in their future pursuit of science, technology, engineering and math. This year's event brought female students from 11 middle schools in and around the Lehigh Valley region, including the Bethlehem, East Penn, Whitehall-Coplay and Norristown School Districts as well as Allentown-based Newcomer Academy and Swain Schools.

Students were joined by mentors from the university's chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Lehigh's Iacocca Hall with the opportunity to participate in various engineering and science experiments, including:

Chromatography: Students learned the importance of utilizing physical proprties to determine the components of a substance. In this experiment, teams experimented with separating pigments in coloring through the use of water and gravity in this chemical engineering study.

Chocolate Composites: In this experiment, the girls researched the qualities of strength and endurance, using scientific methods working with composites made of chocolate and candy. Groups attempted to break the composites through varying forces and learn how to build better and stronger materials.

Mall Madness: Students attempted to balance the subjects of quality control, time and budget management through a familiar activity - shopping! The teams learned how to more efficiently budget their time and money through this competition.

Egg Drop: This annual event challenged students to both design and build a vehicle that can provide a safe landing for an egg dropped three stories above the ground. Teams were provided with a budget used to purchase everyday items to build the vehicle.

CHOICES is sponsored annually by the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and organized by the university's chapter of the SWE, with support from partner organizations including Air Products and Chemicals.

Highlights from this event and Summer CHOICES camps can be found on the CHOICES Facebook page, including photos from the event, video and more.

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CHOICES celebrates its 18th year at Lehigh University. Click here to view photos from the event.