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Mothers, daughters build roller coasters, balloon-powered planes as part of annual spring event

A mother-daughter pair watches their balloon-powered paper plane during Mother-Daughter Day.

Mothers and their daughters embarked on a day of exploring the field of engineering at the University of Missouri Mother-Daughter Engineering Day on Saturday, April 21.

The pairs spent the day participating in different types of engineering activities, such as building a roller coaster out of construction paper and tape, making a paper airplane propelled by a balloon and testing different ways to filter water.

Each mother-daughter pair was matched with a current woman MU engineering student in order to educate the young women and their mothers about the different options and applications of engineering through engaging activities with peer mentors.

Shawnna Ek and her daughter Shelby, 15, traveled from Kansas City to Columbia the night before the event.

“It’s fun to see that there are other girls interested in engineering,” Ek said.

Ek’s daughter, Shelby, said she is unsure of what type of engineering she wants to pursue in the future.

“That’s why we’re here, to see all the different types of engineering,” Ek said.

Mary Beth Graefe and her 12-year-old daughter Meghan, from St. Louis, had the most fun during the airplane activity.

“She’s interested in problem solving. When they were introducing the roller coaster activity, she turned to me and said ‘I have an idea!’ before they finished explaining everything,” Graefe said.

Graefe said she appreciated the environment of the event. She said it’s a much better experience to be in a college environment with current students and resources than to have something like this brought to Meghan’s school.

“I love the more individualized experience. It’s nice for me to be able to talk to a college student, and she’s a good role model for Meghan. They are encouraging trial and error and telling the girls it’s okay to make mistakes, which is great,” Graefe said.

Jamie Blackburn and her daughter, Aliyah, 13, from Columbia, came to learn more about the engineering path.

“This has given us more information about what engineers can do, future careers, different branches of engineering, and more,” Blackburn said.

Zaria Noronha, 13, from Lee’s Summit, said her favorite activities were the roller coaster and the water filter experiment. She liked the roller coasters because she got to see how they are made from scratch and try making one for herself.

Noronha wants to study chemical engineering because she’s interested in how things are made. She would love to see what actually takes to make nail polish and lipstick.

Her mother, April Boyd-Noronha, laughed at Zaria’s comment, “makeup is No. 1!”

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