OGDEN -- Parent-and-daughter teams furiously taped and wrapped together straws and popsicle sticks, all with the goal of constructing a hydraulic crane powered by two water-filled syringes connected by clear plastic tubing.
The girls proudly displayed their completed designs to the group Saturday in the conference room of Weber State University's Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning.
The exercise was one of several activities at Parent-Daughter Engineering Day meant to help 40 girls in grades six through nine become interested in engineering.
"We want to expose them at a young enough age that they can get excited about it and plan accordingly in high school to take the right math and science and to help parents prepare their kids," said event organizer Rainie Ingram.
Maggy Cooper, 13, a seventh-grader from Centerville Junior High School, attended the event last year. She enjoyed it so much that she returned this year. She hopes to become an architect and an engineer.
"It tells me about the scholarships I can get and how I can become an engineer," Maggy said.
Female engineers, Weber State faculty and students lead sessions to promote the engineering field to young women.
Julie McCulley, a Weber State University professor in computer and electronic engineering technology, sees a dearth of women in her classes.
She estimates that the percentage of women engineers in her department is in the single digits.
"We're working hard to change that and to change that perception," McCulley said.
Nicole Fronky, president of the Society of Women Engineers at Weber State University, said a program similar to Parent-Daughter Engineering Day inspired her to pursue the field when she was younger.
"It helps those girls experience other opportunities," she said.
In an early exercise, the girls and their parents built devices using straws, paper clips and pipe cleaners to protect an egg from a 5-foot drop.
Polk Elementary sixth-grader Allison Francis, 11, won a pair of buttons for her successful design, two connecting cones. "It's really fun."
She learned about the different careers available to her in the engineering field.
Most of the projects, such as the egg drop and hydraulic crane, came from award-winning author and biomedical engineer Celeste Baine, director of the Engineering Education Service Center in Clinton, Wash.
"They are so excited when they have it done," Baine said. "There is a lot of positive feedback in that."
Baine also held a session specifically for the parents. "Growing Your Own Engineer" teaches parents how to nurture their daughters to grow up to be engineers.
"It lets us know what's open, what's out there," said Maggy's mother, Susie Cooper, "which is really important."
Weber State University's College of Applied Science & Technology organized the event as part of National Engineers Week.
Response to the event was so strong that another 60 families were put on a waiting list. To meet the demand, organizers will have a second event May 21.