More than 200 Girl Scouts became engineers for a day as they constructed devices capable of launching a ping-pong ball, built an electrical circuit, created a game using electronics and learned about positive aspects of the engineering profession during the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) first “Invent It. Build It.” event on November 6. The event was part of the SWE’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla., which took place November 3-6.

With support from the local Girl Scouts’ Citrus Council and sponsorship from ExxonMobil Foundation, “Invent It. Build It.” introduced high school girls to the rewarding career opportunities available in engineering and encourages them to further their math and science studies.

All activities were coordinated by PBS’ Emmy Award-winning television series, “Design Squad,” and was intended to test students’ problem-solving skills while exposing them to fun applications of math and science.

“Women represent almost half the U.S. workforce, yet hold only a quarter of tech-related jobs,” said Suzanne M. McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “At ExxonMobil, we believe that educating girls at an early age about the opportunities in math and science is imperative to inspire another generation of innovators. We are proud to partner with SWE and Girl Scouts, two organizations focused on encouraging young women, to work toward this goal.”

The National Science Foundation projects 80 percent of jobs in the next decade will require strong science or technical skills, and according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, girls’ participation and achievement in science and math both decline as they advance in grade levels. In fourth grade, the number of girls and boys who like math and science is approximately the same. However, by the time students reach the eighth grade, twice as many boys as girls show an interest in these subjects.

“Invent It. Build It.” marked the culmination of SWE’s 2010 conference at the Orange County Convention Center, which featured an industry-focused career fair, workshops and panel discussions.

About ExxonMobil Foundation
ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. The foundation and the corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, health and science in the communities where ExxonMobil has significant operations. In the United States, ExxonMobil supports initiatives to improve math and science education at the K-12 and higher education levels.

Globally, ExxonMobil provides funding to improve basic education, promote women as catalysts for economic development, and combat malaria and other infectious diseases in developing countries. In 2009, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $235 million in contributions worldwide, of which more than $98 million was dedicated to education.