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All-girls team hopes to be the first to win Battle of the Brains

Posted at 6:59 AM, Nov 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 08:43:35-05

LIBERTY, Mo. -- As the push to get more girls excited about STEM careers continues, a local team is hoping a competition could help. 

The Liberty North SWENext (Society of Women Engineers) team beat out 800 other teams to become a top-20 finalist in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains Competition. 

"We're excited we made the top 20, which is the highlight of the school year so far," said Katie Thompson, the only senior on the team. "It's like, 'Hey, this isn't a field that only guys can be in.'"

The team's proposal is centered around the relationship between science, math, art and music. It's called Full Steam Ahead. 

To see the full proposal, click here

"Usually people think of those two ideas as very separate, but those two things work together a lot," said Delaney Clawson, a sophomore in the group and the Vice President of the SWENext club. "One example is a Spirograph. The Spirograph is the image of an equation." 

This is the first time Liberty North has an all girls team submitting a proposal.

"I told the boys, 'No, they couldn't be a part of it,'" said instructor Brett Kisker. "When you mix boys and girls together, the boys try to take over the project to do it their own way, and the girls had some awesome ideas. I didn't want them to be hindered. They were very creative, they were very motivated ... They met four days out of school per week." 

The girls' reason for creating the group was part of a much bigger vision. 

"They said really the reason why is we wished that when we were in third grade, girls would have come down to us and said, 'You know, you can do this stuff too,'" said Kisker. "Math and science isn't a 'boys only' world." 

Since the group started, their focus has been outreach to younger girls in the area.

"We go and talk to all of the elementary schools and basically say, 'Hey, this is what we do in class every day. Does this not look awesome?'" said Thompson. 

"Being able to see these really cool projects and know they were built by girls is really awesome," said Clawson. 

They are working to bridge the gap to create more female engineers in the future.

"We're trying to bridge down to reach the younger kids, but also bridge upward, so we are doing work with mentors in the community," said Kisker. 

If the group wins the Battle of the Brains, they would be the first all girls group to do so. The winner gets to work with Burns & McDonnell engineers to make their vision the newest hands-on exhibit at Science City at Union Station. The winners also get $50,000 to use towards STEM-related programs at their school. 

The winners will be announced on November 30. To vote for your favorite team, click here.

Voting ends Friday, November 24.