Girls Get a Charge

 An elementary school student model earring created from blown fuses. An elementary school student model earring created from blown fuses.

Over the past few years, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport has been working with students from local schools in hopes of sparking a stronger interest in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

While most of NUWC Division Newport's Educational Outreach programs primarily focus on these matters, SeaPerch, an engineering program geared toward middle school students, has taken on a whole new meaning - jewelry making, albeit created from blown fuses.

SeaPerch, a program that provides students with the opportunity to create and engineer remotely operated vehicles (ROV), also teaches concepts such as physics, circuitry, soldering, and electrical current from real-world scientists and engineers in a fun and exciting manner. Interestingly enough, a recent improvement has been added to the program that has caught the attention of the girls in the program. While learning how to construct their underwater robots, the students create control boxes. These control boxes are protected by a fuse, which prevents potential dangers and damages caused by surges of electrical current. Once too much current flows through the fuse, it is said to be a 'blown fuse' and they must be replaced before the circuit will continue to work.

Candida Desjardins, NUWC Division Newport's Educational Outreach Coordinator, recalls when this whole idea to create fuse earrings started. "Miss Candi, I blew a fuse!" was what she was continually hearing from a group of girls in the program. After reaching into her pocket and pulling out numerous blown fuses, Desjardins said to them, "Ladies, what do you expect me to do with these, make jewelry?" The immediate response from the girls was, "Can we?!" "And that's exactly what they did. "

 Earrings created from blown fuses from a control box from a SeaPerch. Earrings created from SeaPerch blown fuses.

Their first earring workshop at Greenlight for Girls, an organization dedicated to encouraging girls to become involved with math and science and, "It was a huge hit," she said. Before the girls are able to take home a pair of these fuse earrings, they need to know what a fuse is, how it works, what blows it, and they need to be able to point out the difference between a good fuse and a bad fuse. After an intensive hands on learning process, the students have created a unique piece of jewelry with quite the story behind it to spark an interest in anyone who sees them.

"They like being able to show off to somebody that they understand the science, and that's a very different concept for middle school girls," said Desjardins. This program not only leaves the girls with some new accessories, but also leaves them with knowledge they will continue to build on in the future.

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