Today, on February 7th, we had 24 students joining us from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Grammar School (5th and 6th graders). Our introduction to engineering presentation, led by STEM work study students Anya and Hadeel, informed the students about what engineering is about (solving problems!), the engineering design process (Ask|Imagine|Plan|Create|Improve), and what the biggest/future challenges in Engineering are (NAE’s Grand Challenges).
The first activity of the day “Who Polluted the Charles River” involved reading the history of the Charles River and learning about the different events that have slowly contributed to polluting the river. For each event, the students would dump the material into the “Charles” (the students had labeled containers with a sample of that item). In the end, the students witnessed how a collection of little pollutants can cause a great affect.
The students then had the task of filtering the polluted water with a budget of $50. They had a large array of supplies to choose from including gravel, cotton balls, and coffee filters. Using the engineering design the students competed to make the most effective water filter while also trying to monitor their spending. Their designs were then tested using the water they had polluted.
During lunch, we gave away “I <3 STEM” Keychains in a sort of Chemistry/Biology/Engineering trivia which the students really got into!
After lunch, we did a demonstration of an “Oil Spill Clean-up”, wherein the students were able to use different materials to contain an oil spill as best as possible, building booms to keep the spill localized and using various absorbent materials to remove the oil. To round out the day, the students toured campus and asked questions about high school, college, and STEM.