With the assistance of the Joliet Junior College MakerLab, Lemont Township High School senior Hannah Sliwa has her sights set on the highest Girl Scout honor. Individuals pursuing the Gold Award are tasked with creating a project that benefits their community and leaves a lasting impact.
JJC’s MakerLab serves as a valuable resource to the community by providing access to state-of-the art digital fabrication equipment and software. It features 3D printers, a laser cutter, a 3D carving machine and more. That’s why it was a perfect fit for Sliwa’s Science Career Expo, held in November at Old Quarry Middle School in Lemont.
“Due to all of the new technology this generation has created, science is rapidly changing and various new careers are available,” she said. “I believe students should be aware of this in preparation for their own futures.”
Sliwa is an ambassador scout in Troop #70591 with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. To be eligible for a Gold Award project, a scout must have already completed a Silver Award, one journey and Gold Award training. In addition, they must present their project to the Girl Scout Council and have it approved. They also need to select a project advisor to assist them throughout the process.
In addition to the MakerLab, participating organizations at the Science Career Expo included CITGO, Argonne National Laboratory, Northern Illinois University, Midwestern University, and The Conservation Foundation, among others. The event was open to the public.
One of Sliwa's primary tasks involved networking and reaching out to these organizations and inviting them to participate. MakerLab Assistant Debra Daun said she was delighted to join and support Hannah’s project.
“From the first meeting I could see that Hannah had very clear goals for her Gold Award project and a solid plan to achieve them.” Daun said. “She was very articulate and passionate about raising awareness among her peers about the career opportunities available in STEM fields and the value of STEM training.”
It was a very successful event, Daun said, noting she was continuously demonstrating the 3D printer and talking about the MakerLab with expo visitors.
Sliwa also developed a flyer to promote her event within the community, utilizing various social media channels and local Patch listings to publicize. She also worked with many of her teachers to share the event with students and parents.
While her Science Career Expo is done, Sliwa still has a few more pieces to complete in order to receive her Gold Award. She needs to create a video recap of her event, write a final paper explaining project outcomes, and complete a final interview with the Girl Scout Council.
“Although every part of my project taught me valuable skills and lessons, the most memorable part was seeing the students enjoying my event. Knowing that my project influenced and educated these students to better prepare them for their future filled my heart with joy,” Sliwa said.
She wants to encourage every girl who is considering pursuing a Gold Award.
“Not only does it distinguish you from others when you apply for college, but it teaches you various skills that are needed in life.”
The MakerLab at JJC is open to the community. Memberships are available at monthly, semester or yearly rates and provides members with access to the MakerLab during open lab hours. Workshops and tours are also available throughout the year. For more information about the MakerLab at JJC, call 815-280-6679 or visit www.trainingupdate.org/makerlab.