Engineering Design Workshop – Grew Elementary (12.17.2020)

Today (December 17th), during a blizzard, we had a virtual field trip with the Grew Elementary School‘s fourth grade classes (~35 students)! Joining us for the field trip (8:45-10:45am) was five Northeastern volunteers: Hadeel (joining from the UAE, at 5:30pm), Madisyn (from Atlanta, GA), Bryanna (from NJ), Tasha (from Northeastern), and Lauryn (from Las Vegas, as 5:30am)!

Hadeel led this field trip, teaching students about the engineering design process, then leading students through the What is this Thing? activity. Rather than going through the activity as a whole group together, we split into 5 breakout rooms to guess each picture then came back together as a group to share our guesses. This group did really well, correctly guessing 12 of the 16 pictures. The most easily identifiable were the meat tenderizer and the beauty blender, whilst the hardest to identify were the omniwheels and the tunnel boring machine (I will probably add a side view to this picture to make it easier).

After looking at some engineered objects and guessing the problems they solved, students had a chance to solve their own problem: making the tallest tower out of a single piece of paper and six inches of tape! Some really interesting designs this time, as highlighted below. Some things we learned are making towers that are “thin” – i.e. having no back, having a wide base tapering down as it goes up, and taping towers down to a base.

Finally, we ended with a short STEM/College 101 session with our volunteers – who gave some great tips about how to do well in a virtual learning environment (paper planner, working outside of bedroom, working with a team of people (a virtual “study group”), a morning/afternoon ritual – making sure to have time to yourself (eating, relaxing).

Thank you everyone (teachers, volunteers, staff) for making this field trip such a success! Enjoy the rest of the snowy day everyone!

Feedback Update:
Students: How did you like the event = 0.91 [Key: 1 = :), 0 = :|, -1 = :(]


  • “The video at the beginning was a great introduction to what engineering is and why it is important! (a tip for future virtual lessons: when you play a video through a shared screen on zoom, it is less glitchy when everyone turns off their camera’s on the zoom call!)”
  • “In the virtual world it is difficult to have hands on activities in our classroom. This [paper towers] was a wonderful activity to see the kids use their creativity, and be able to create things on their own.”


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