SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Some Sioux Falls eighth grade girls are proving they can handle heavy equipment as well as the boys. They took part in a day of activities at the CTE Academy designed to get them interested in construction careers.

These Sioux Falls eighth graders are bowling with a Bobcat. Pushing a ball with the bucket to try and knock down the pins.

“I did pretty bad, but one of my friends got it. So, that was cool,” Edison Middle School 8th grader Isabel Gillespie said.

The girls also took the controls of an excavator to try and dunk a basketball.

“I got it, first try,” Edison Middle School 8th grader Julia Bauer said.

The girls also gave power tools a try to drill down on what it takes to work in the construction industry. This introduction has many of them reconsidering their plans beyond graduation.

“I didn’t really think about going into construction. But now, it’s made me think about it more because the machines are fun to use and there’s a lot of openings in the job,” Bauer said.

Eighth grade may seem a little early for girls to start making career plans. But organizers of this event want to start them early so they can build upon the skills they’re learning today.

“It does seem early, but as soon as they hit high school years, they start taking classes that are on their career path. So if they want to do a construction career, they need to take certain classes in their high school years,” Director of the Sioux Falls chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction Karen Krietlow said.

Women make up just 11-percent of the overall construction workforce. Recruiting girls early-on can help fill the void of job openings in the years ahead. So these hands-on lessons can help them find out if construction, still a male-dominated profession, is right up their alley.

“And I hope it keeps on changing in the future because girls can do a lot and boys can, too, but girls can do a lot, too,” Julia said.

CTE students also helped show the girls how to use welding equipment. Thursday’s event is part of the nationwide celebration of Women in Construction Week.