On Friday, October 4th, ~60 4th grade students from the Paul A. Dever Elementary School in Dorchester, MA attended a field trip at Northeastern University. The whole day revolved around a theme of Engineering, introducing what engineering is and the engineering design process. Students broke off into two groups; one group performing an activity using catapults and another group participating in the egg drop activity.
Groups of three to four students in the Egg Drop activity were instructed to develop a device that would safely catch an egg flying from the air. It was a test of creativity, materials science, and budgeting. They were given a maximum of one hundred dollars to spend and a variety of materials to choose from including toothpicks, string, balloons, pipe cleaners, and cotton balls. They tested their devices on the ISEC bridge and recorded how their eggs lasted. The egg was allowed to be cracked as long as their was no yolk coming out.
The other group of students worked in teams of three or four to build catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and spoons. The students used their brainstorming skills and creativity to design a catapult that would launch far rather than high. They had two testing rounds where they earned points for shooting skittles at volunteers. The two rounds tested for both accuracy and precision and consisted of one practice run and three separate trial runs. Ten points were given if it landed in their mouths, five points were given if it hit their faces, three points were given if it hit their torsos, and one point was given if it touched their legs or arms. Students used their first round to see what to improve on their catapults. Overall, it was seen that students improved on their second testing round as compared to their first testing round. Most groups were able to score more than three points for their second testing round. The winning group named scored a total of 11 points during their second testing round!
After lunch, the two groups swapped so each group was able to preform both activities.
Thank you to the Paul A. Dever faculty, students, and Northeastern volunteers for making this field trip possible!