Today we had our third field trip of the semester, and this time the fourth grade (36 students) from the Phineas Bates Elementary School came. This is their 3rd year in a row (last year and year before) coming to campus, and it was great to have them back! The students learned about engineering (problem solving) and the engineering design process (the steps to solve said problems) and then had their own opportunity to solve a problem: how to design a device to catch a falling egg (a “reverse” egg drop).
Students were given a budget of $100 and a large choice of supplies to purchase and, in teams of 3, competed to design the cheapest device to successfully keep the egg from being harmed. In the end, four teams were able to come up with designs to keep their eggs intact, with the cheapest successful design being just under $60. Interestingly, the most popular material (besides duct tape and card board) this field trip was feathers (it’s usually cotton balls).
Afterwards, the group split in half and took turns at the next set of activities. In one set, students were given a campus tour, with a College 101 session rolled into the tour – whilst volunteers brought students around campus to interesting sites (Science Quad echo spot, Cy Young Statue, Egan Research Center, Natatorium, Matthews Arena, etc.), they also answered questions about college and STEM in general. The other activity was visiting Northeastern Civil Engineering Department’s Earthquake Lab, where students learned about earthquakes, resonance frequency, and were given the chance to design, build, and test their own Earthquake-resistant (or not) K-NEX structures. Finally, they were able to experience an earthquake firsthand, by taking turns standing on the shake table.