What does it take to get kids excited about science and engineering?
At Rensselaer School of Engineering’s annual Exploring Engineering Day, the answer lies in fun hands-on science experiments.
Exploring Engineering Day
More than 400 elementary school students and their parents attended a program that featured twelve workshops run by the engineering school’s students. Divided into a morning and afternoon blocks, the students were assigned to groups that cycled through four different workshops.
The clincher was that while the children participated in the workshops, their adults stayed in the auditorium where they listened to a special presentation from social engineer Margaret Ashida about new initiatives from the Empire State STEM Learning Network; followed by an illuminating talk about Smart Lighting from Robert Karlicek, Jr., Director of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center.
It was interesting to hear what is being done to counter dwindling numbers of students who are entering college ready and wiling to pursue careers requiring math and science skills. And to find out what kind of light chickens prefer. But those are topics for another day.
What everyone wants to know is: what did the kids do during Exploring Engineering Day? Did they like the program? And are they now interested in pursuing a career in engineering, or at least in math and science?
Since I couldn’t follow the kids to the workshops, I did the next best thing – I bribed my son to take photos. Here is an inside look at what attracts kids to science at Exploring Engineering Day:
My son didn’t have much to say about the “Modeling Fission” workshop, or the “Fantastic Water Filters.”
But his eyes lit up when describing the “Sensitivity of Materials” workshop where they tested what happens when you hammer a rubber ball that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen. Hands down, this was his favorite part of the program. And later, when he was asked what field of engineering might be in his future, his answer was, “Chemical Engineering.”
Judging by the beaming smiles of all the children when they returned from the workshops, it looked like the science experiments won a lot of hearts and minds.
Science For Kids
Included in our goody bags was a list of links to science projects for kids to explore concepts from various disciplines of engineering.
- Zoom Science Activities
- Try Engineering Lesson Plans
- Try Engineering Games
- Kitchen Science Experiments
- Fatlion Science Experiments for Kids
- Engineering for Kids
- Discover Engineering
- Civil Engineering Just for Fun
- Engineering Go For It
- Engineer Your Life
- Brain Cake
- Engineer Girl
- Try Science
- Kids Sites Science
- Bill Nye the Science Guy
- Building Big
- Energy Kids
- Great Web Sites for Kids
And a few more collected by volunteer librarians and researchers at EducatorLabs:
- Astronomy – http://www.planetsforkids.org/
- Fun Car Facts: Simple Machines in Automobiles – https://www.kanetix.ca/simple-machines-in-cars
- ZoomSci: Science and Engineering Projects for Kids – http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/
- A Kid’s Guide to Forest Fires – http://www.treeremoval.com/kids-guide-to-forest-fires/
- Wildlife and Nature Lesson Plans and Resources for Educators –http://www.nwf.org/what-we-do/kids-and-nature/educators.aspx
- Teaching Strategies for Incorporating Writing Into Math Class – http://www2.ups.edu/community/tofu/lev1f/jourframe.htm
- Financial Literacy and Real Estate Investment Lesson Plans – http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/helpful-advice/finance-lesson-plans.php
- Discovery Education | Classroom Resources – http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers
For more Fun Educational Lesson Plans, Activities and Printables see:
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Sandra Foyt | Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @SandraFoyt.