30 girls win scholarships after putting STEM skills to test in Ice Box Derby

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thirty young women have converted a refrigerator into a speed machine, all in the name of science.

On Saturday, dozens of girls competed in the ComEd Ice Box Derby in Daley Plaza.

The girls, ages 14-18, put their STEM skills to the test by turning a recycled refrigerator into a race car.

"We've been waiting for this for quite a long time and we put a lot of work into the cars," said Cynthia Rivas, a derby participant. "I'm excited to see how it's all going to come out."

The event celebrates women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. It's estimated that only a quarter of people working in STEM fields are women, but those in the industry realize the value of changing that statistic.

"We just don't have enough of a pipeline of young women going in to science, technology and engineering. So what we're trying to do is capture them early and inspire them with these cool projects and then they're going to be able to race around today," said Joe Dominguez, CEO of ComEd.

Tiana Johnson's daughter worked with a group of girls to transform the old appliance into a solar-powered race car. Johnson said thanks to the derby, her daughter is now considering a future in STEM.

"I'm so proud of all the work that they're doing, everything she's learning," Johnson said. "I think it's fantastic. I was really happy to learn about this program because I didn't know it was available until this year."

After a few rounds of races, Team Orange took home the prize. But each participant left with a $1,500 scholarship.

They also had a chance to meet Marsai Martin, star of the ABC TV show "Black-ish."

"What you ladies are doing here today is getting us closer to that dream," Martin said. "That's why I'm extremely honored to be celebrating with all of you today."
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