More than 70 elementary and middle school students from the Valley spent their Saturday learning, building and discovering what engineers do in the first ever Explore Engineering Saturday Academy, hosted by the Lyles College of Engineering.
Students in third through eighth grades worked in groups according to their grade level and built a trebuchet and a hydraulic car or robot. Students were split into three classrooms, then students were split into small groups within those classrooms.
A 10 minute presentation explaining what a trebuchet is was shown before students began working. Students were given materials and instructions on how to build each project.
The workshops were taught by engineering majors. Help was provided for students and groups who needed it.
In the first half of the event, the third through sixth graders built a small version of a trebuchet while the seventh and eighth graders built a much larger trebuchet.
In the second half of the event, the third through sixth graders built a hydraulic car. Once built, students tested it and competed in a race against other groups, while the seventh and eighth graders built a hydraulic robot. Groups battled each other and whichever group knocked the opponent’s robot off the table won.
“There just isn’t enough information on what engineers do or how you can become an engineer, and what types of engineers are out there in schools,” co-coordinator Dr. Nihal Orfi said. “So what we are trying to do is basically fill that gap. I hope the students have fun. I hope they realize that engineering is for everyone and it’s not as complicated as some people say it is.”
The older students were able to work more independently while the younger students worked as a group to help each other.
“This event is a great way for students to see and understand what engineering is,” co-coordinator Erika Lansburgh said. “They get to build and understand what engineers do in the world. What students will get from this is they’ll be able to work in teams and they’ll be able to compete against each other. They’ll gain confidence to go to college and to one day be an engineer.”