Cardboard Boat Regatta keeping girls’ STEM career dreams afloat

Photo courtesy Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Photo courtesy Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Chávez HS students build, test their skills through unique partnership with Rice University

Thinking up a concept, executing its design, and thrilling in its success—or learning from its failure—that’s what the Cardboard Boat Regatta at Chávez High School is all about.

Eleven teams comprised of sophomore, junior and senior girls, with mentoring assistance from Rice University graduate students, GE Oil & Gas volunteers, and Chávez HS faculty, raced cardboard boats of their own design on June 25 in the new signature event of the three-year-old Rice University Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) Girls STEM Initiative.

“This is a culmination event that uses teamwork, collaboration abilities, physics, and construction,” said Lisa Sanger Blinn, IBB Associate Director. “It takes engineering design principals and art and showmanship.”

The winning boat was named “Mushu,” after the red dragon in a Disney movie.

The Rice University IBB Girls STEM Initiative is an intensive three-year preparatory program designed to immerse high school girls in cutting-edge biomedical research, address weaknesses in their educational background, and foster long-term mentoring relationships. An exclusive partnership between Rice University and Chávez, the program provides an innovative approach to expanding Houston’s pipeline of female, STEM-trained, college-bound high school graduates.

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