Edison K-8 – STEM Field Trip (02.03.2021)

On Wednesday, February 3rd we had a STEM Field Trip with the Edison K-8 (Elementary School) where we discussed the Engineering Design Process and applied it to a Civil Engineering Project – Paper Towers. We began by talking about what Engineering is and went over the 5 steps of the Design Process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve. Using this information, students were tasked with using their creativity and applying what they learned to work on the Paper Towers Project. 

For the Paper Towers Project, students were allowed one piece of 8.5” x 11” paper and an optional 6” of tape for their building but alternatives like cereal boxes, newspapers, and paper cups worked well too. They were tasked with building the tallest free-standing tower – it must be able to balance on its own without being taped down to the surface it stands on. We spent 15 minutes on an initial design and discussed our ideas and approaches with our breakout rooms. They mentioned starting with a strong base, folding the paper into shapes like squares and triangles, and making sure their pieces fit together in the end. After this, the students spent 10 minutes improving their own design with these new ideas and we reconvened to share their final designs with everyone. 

Students were very creative with their designs! Instead of normal copy paper, many students had leftover cereal boxes and index cards but they were able to use their materials’ sturdy structure to their advantage. A common theme was to create a stable base to build on top of and keep their towers from falling over. These bases utilized shapes like squares, cones, cylinders, and rectangles. A lot of students chose to be creative in terms of the aesthetics of their builds as well – featuring bright-colored towers, cereal box houses, and even an apartment complex with stairs!


Student Feedback:

Average Rating: 0.71 | KEY: 1 = :), 0 = :|, -1 = 🙁


  • The best part of the event was when I got to see everyone’s Towers
  • One thing I learned was that when building a tower you got to make a blueprint then once you make the blueprint you know exactly how you build your building
  • That it’s ok if you mess up just add on and if you don’t like it then just get some more materials and start again.


Teacher Feedback:

Average Rating: 4.5 | KEY: 5 = highest, 1 = lowest


  • It was really great to have the students making something for the majority of the field trip. They seemed pretty engaged!
  • Nothing! I think it was also very smart to have their school teachers paired with the volunteers to help push the students to keep working.
  • Thank you so much for planning the workshop for our students. It’s a very fresh learning experience for them.  Wish we can go to Northeastern next year for more experiences.


Volunteer Feedback:


  • I think that this was a good activity that kept the students very engaged throughout the field trip.
  • One suggestion is to prep the kids with the activity materials and brief before coming
  • Having it on zoom actually went really well
  • It was nice that there was a teacher in my breakout room

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