Engineering Exploration Week + Engineering for Everyone Expo

Northeastern University’s Center for STEM Education hosted this year Engineering Exploration week from Tuesday, February 21st to Friday, February 24th.

On Tuesday, February 21st, we kicked off the program with and introduction to the engineering design process and chemical engineering. Students first began the day with introductions and some team building exercises. We then followed with an introduction to the engineering design process and an introduction to the UN Sustainability Goals. Students then faced off in a Sumo Hexbug challenge, where each student had to create an add-on for their hexbug that would help them beat their opponent and stay in the ring. We then had a chance to visit Northeastern University’s First Year Engineering Learning & Innovation Center (FYELIC) with Professor Love and a Chemical Engineering Lab with Tracy Carter. After the short tour, the students explored strange inventions in our What is This Thing? activity. We ended our busy day with one final activity, Catapults! Students teamed up and worked on creating a catapult to launch M&M’s at a target. Students were then able to re-iterate on their design to improve their catapults’ accuracy and precision.

Volunteers and students work together to set up their catapult for success!

Students launch their M&Ms at the target

Students pose in front of their catapult design.

On Wednesday, February 22nd, we focused on learning all about Mechanical Engineering and Bio-Engineering. We started the day off with the invention timeline activity where the students had to guess when, by whom and why the inventions were made. They then had a chance to design their own personalized keychains with Professor Love that were laser cut at our own makerspace. We then headed over to Professor Lin’s lab where we were able to learn how to drive in her Driving Simulator. After enjoying lunch, we then visited ISEC where we learned all about bones with Professor Shefelbine. Students were able to test the strength of bones by determining how much weight different items (like pasta, and metal rods) can withstand before snapping. We then finished the day with one last activity before the campus tour, Egg Drop! Students were set into teams where they had to create a contraption to ensure the safety of their egg when dropping it off of Columbus Garage. We watched as each team dropped their design, waiting for either a splat or a safe landing! We finished the day off with a fun tour around campus hitting all of the hotspots, including Professor Monaghan’s Axolotl lab!

Students work together to measure the bend of their “bone”.

Increasing the weight, students check to see how much the “bones” can withstand before they break!

Students listen intently as they learn all about bones!

Thursday, February 23rd, was all about electrical, computer, civil and environmental engineering. We started the day with the Who Polluted activity where the students learned about System Thinking. This was then connected to next activity all about water quality and water quality sensors lead by Amy Mueller and Annalisa Onnis-Hayden. After a lunch break, the students became civil engineers constructing paper towers. Students competed with one another to see who can construct the tallest tower and who can construct a tower that can hold the most weight. We then moved on to Transportation Timeline, where students worked together to sort different transportation methods based on when they were created. We ended the day with a focus on computer engineering where the students learned about programming and had a chance to “program” a volunteer to make a sandwich. The students then joined Professor Kaeli to learn about big data and how it influences our searches differently.

On the last day, Friday, February 24th, our goal was to hit all of engineering to recap the exciting week. We began with Human Machine Charades where the students split into two teams and had to act out machines and inventions for the other team to guess. We then headed over to the Engineering for Everyone Expo where tables were set up with different activities. At this expo, which was open to the public, participants were able to stop by each table to learn more about the specific topics. Activities included: wind turbines, penny boats, snap circuits, etc. We even had a raffle at the Engineering for Everyone Expo, where the students were able to win cool prizes like college merch and cool STEM toys. We then returned back to enjoy some pizza after the exciting expo. The students then practiced their communication and presentation skills during our 1-minute TED talks. We then finished our super fun week with a movie before closing out the Engineering Explorations week.


Students watch as their Egg Drop contraption fall.

Students take a look at the regeneration lab, full of axolotls!

Students pose in front of Northeastern's mascot - the husky!

Students pose in front of Northeastern’s mascot – the husky!

Thank you to everyone who was able to participate in the Engineering Exploration Week and the Engineering for Everyone Expo. We’re are looking forward to see you all again next year!

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