This past Saturday (October 3rd) we hosted a group of 5th-12th grade girls in partnership with the Ron Burton Training Village. Our first virtual event of the semester, the day was focused on the Engineering Design Process and Green Engineering. The girls first learned about the Engineering Design Process and the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges, then the girls did their own hands-on engineering challenge, designing towers to be as tall as possible using just a single piece of paper (8.5″x11″) and no tape. After initial designs were tested, students shared their work and then improved their designs in a second build phase. The difficult part in this activity is connecting the different levels (columns of paper) of the tower together, as there is no tape. Designs utilized twisting the paper together, cutting slits and sliding the paper together, stacking cubes, and a particularly clever design used the hole on hole-punched paper to hold the paper tower. The tallest towers were 35 inches, 27 inches, and 24 inches tall.
After the tower activity, we learned about Green Engineering, focusing on vertical farming. Using this newfound knowledge, students worked in groups to create Mind Maps with the topic: “How do engineers impact food supply/safety/security?”. Students brainstormed the topic, with some interesting ideas, including food and nutrition labels, food waste and composting, community gardening, mass production techniques, re-usable/edible packaging, etc. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visualize the mind maps, which we were using drawing software (draw.chat) for.
After a 15 minute physical exercise break followed, led by a woman from Reebok, we transitioned into our STEM/College 101 Panel, wherein 4 Northeastern graduate and undergraduate students shared their experiences at Northeastern. Afterwards, students asked questions about College, High School, and STEM to the panelists.
Feedback from this event was very positive: “I really liked getting to hear about Northeastern University. It is now on my radar as a place for my future.” and “I really enjoyed the hands-on activities and the panelist’s discussion at the end. I learned a lot and greatly benefited from this session.” Students learned about perseverance in engineering, “I learned how not to get mad if I can not do something and just keep on trying” and college prep, “I learned that to get ready for college, I need to establish a foundation of learning in high school.”
Thank you to all panelists and Northeastern student volunteers (Maya, Sam, Lauryn, Francheska) and RBTV volunteers and program administrators for making this event possible. I wish the best for all the girls in their future endeavors, and perhaps will see them in the future at Northeastern University!