Engineering Design Workshop – Donald McKay


On Tuesday, December 15th, we had a virtual field trip with Ms. Brigg’s fifth grade class (~16 students) from the Donald McKay K-8 School.

This field trip was an Engineering Design Workshop, which is a shortened field trip (2 hours) with three specific activities: What is this Thing?, Paper Towers, and STEM/College 101.

  • What is this Thing? [WITT] is an online activity in which students look at a series of unusual objects and guess what problem each object was designed to solve and what the object might be called. There are two versions of this activity: a shortened version with just 16 objects to guess, and a full-length version with 33 objects to guess. [Mechanical Engineering]
  • Paper Towers is a hands-on activity in which students design, build, test, re-design, and re-build towers made out of paper. There are two versions: building the tallest paper or building a 1 foot tower that supports the most weight. Each tower is made out of just a single piece of paper and 6 inches of tape. [Civil Engineering]
  • STEM/College 101 is a session in which the visiting students ask our NU student volunteers anything they want about college, STEM, high school, etc.

For today’s workshop, we were joined by NU student volunteer’s Hadeel (who led the activities), Madisyn, and Francheska. For the WITT activity, one of the students correctly guessed image 30 (the practice stitching tool), for the first time since I started doing this activity! For the paper towers, the students struggled in the first round of building, but after viewing some of the successful towers (taped down to “bases”, circular and/or triangular pillars, etc), they were able to make taller, freestanding towers in the second round of building.

Whilst the students were working, I chatted with the teacher about ways to get more engagement with students in a virtual space, and she suggested the following three websites (which I haven’t had a chance to look through, but plan to do at some point in the future): flipgrid, classkick, and nearpod.

Student Feedback: How did you like the event = 0.77 [Key: 1 = :), 0 = :|, -1 = :(]

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