Phineas Bates – STEM Field Trip (4.14.2021)

On Wednesday, April 14th, 30 fourth grade students from the Phineas Bates Elementary School came to Northeastern for a virtual field trip to learn about the engineering design process. This is now the fifth consecutive year that Ms. Hughes’ 4th grade classroom has come for a field trip!

Today, NU student volunteers Hadeel and Samantha led, with additional help by Madisyn and Salima: thanks volunteers! Like our previous field trip, students were introduced to the engineering design process through four activities: Paper Towers, What is this Thing, Backpack Re-Design (see pictures to the right), and STEM/College 101.

Some key takeaways/interesting things from today’s field trip:
– When students were asked what skills an engineer need, the responses were usually the standard responses: creativity, persistence, etc. However, one of the students responded with “Social Awareness” – a completely new response I haven’t heard yet, referring to the need for engineers to be aware of what’s going on in the world to know what problems to solve/address. I really like this response – Engineers are problem solvers, and focusing on significant global problems is important. In fact, the National Academy of Engineering has such a list of 14 “game-changing goals for improving life on the planet:” NAE Grand Challenges.

– Whilst showing off student work, one of the teachers pointed out that when using zoom, when you “pin” a students’ view, that only pins the view for yourself, and not everyone else. To pin a video feed for everyone, you need to “spotlight” that student – I’ve been doing this wrong all year, ahh!!!!

– During the STEM/College 101 panel, one of the students asked, “what is a ‘major'”. This is a really good question, as we often assume students know what the words we are using mean – this was eye opening for our NU student volunteers, really showing them to not assume student understanding and ensure students are comprehending.

Great field trip all around; thank you everyone! -Nick

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