What does it mean to take the lead like a Girl Scout? Two girls from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana found out firsthand after winning the 2016 ComEd Icebox Derby as part of Team Radiant Flames.
“I was so excited and so happy that we’d won,” said Therese Jager, a 14-year-old Girl Scout Senior. “We were all jumping around and giving each other high-fives.”
One of Therese’s teammates and Sister Girl Scout, Athena Zheng, said she was speechless when she realized they’d earned first place.
“The whole event, both the build days and especially race day, was filled with thrill and excitement,” said Athena, a 14-year-old Girl Scout Senior. “I really enjoyed the part during race day when I drove because I felt proud that I had contributed toward building this amazing car. I felt a sense of exhilaration course through me as I hopped into the car, put the seat belt on and pressed the pedal to start driving!”
Last month, 30 girls between the ages of 14 and 18 from the Chicagoland area competed in the third annual ComEd Icebox Derby where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advocate and ABC’s blackish star Yara Shahidi served as emcee of the event. Teams of six worked for weeks to make solar-powered race cars out of old refrigerators. In addition to Therese and Athena, Team Radiant Flames also included Morgan Jones, Taylor Clark and Tawashae Garrett, in addition to their ComEd mentors.
“The Icebox Derby is a special once-in-a-lifetime experience because it isn’t an everyday thing that girls get to construct racecars out of old, recycled refrigerators,” Athena explained. “Additionally, we gained new STEM-related skills and experiences. This included solving science problems during race day, learning what gear ratio is and creating series and parallel circuits.”
In addition to the technical skills, Athena said she also learned the power of teamwork.
“I did not know any of my teammates or mentors before Icebox Derby, but we developed a strong bond of friendship over the build days,” she said. “I believe that teamwork contributed to our win because I would have felt less confident without my teammates’ encouragement and support.”
Meanwhile, Therese was excited to learn about circuits, use power tools and connect solar panels to the car. Both girls stressed the importance of getting girls involved in STEM at a young age.
“Because of Girl Scouts, I have had so many opportunities that I would not have otherwise had, such as participating in the Icebox Derby and First LEGO League robotics, meeting powerful women at the Executive Club luncheon and meeting with local politicians and government officials over the years through my work on various projects,” said Therese.
“I am truly grateful to ComEd for having this Icebox Derby program and I am so fortunate to have had this experience,” she continued. “I want to be an aerospace engineer someday, but I may have never known about this field or considered engineering as a career if I had not been exposed to it.”