On November 16th, 2019, 40 4th grade students from the West Somerville Neighborhood School came for a field trip to learn about engineering and the design process. Mike McMahon, the STEM outreach coordinator for ASME, recruited NU ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) students to help run this field trip. Thank you to Mike and the ASME volunteers who helped make this day possible: Tom, Rebecca, Daniel, Mark, and Rigel!
The visiting students started the day learning about the engineering design process, using the design steps to hypothetically design an alarm clock (a bed that throws you out of it). During the reverse egg drop presentation, Mike gave an excellent grade-level appropriate demonstration and explanation of egg drop physics, teaching the students about forces, gravity, acceleration, and pressure. Using their newfound engineering and physics knowledge, the students designed devices to survive an 8 foot drop. Lot of egg survivors on this field trip, with a couple groups specifically designing their devices to prevent the eggs from bouncing out of their device (which happens in the presentation video).
After lunch, our ASME volunteers were nice enough to volunteer their bodies for a good cause: offering themselves as targets for the catapults activity. Students then tested the accuracy and precision of their catapults by trying to hit the volunteers for the most possible points (accuracy: 1 point for arms/legs, 3 points for torso, 5 points for face, 10 points for mouth | precision: as many times as possible in 3 shots). As usual for this activity, we had some groups score 0 points (it’s surprisingly hard to hit a human target with a Popsicle-stick catapult), but we did have two groups score over 5 points! One group also had an interesting design that utilized two rubber bands and a longer fulcrum (pictured) to accelerate their catapult to crazy speed. Luckily for the volunteer (and unfortunate for the group’s design), it’s accuracy wasn’t great, only scoring 1 point.