Today we had another virtual field trip with the third and fourth grade classes at Edison K-8 School. For this 1 hour field trip, which had 100 students in five classes, we talked about engineering and solving problems – with a focus on civil engineering. NU students Gabby (Civil Engineering) and Zandria (Industrial Engineering) came out during their spring break to help run this field trip: thanks you two!
After our introduction presentation, in which students learned that engineers, at their most basic, solve problems – we asked students what skills they think an engineer needs. Creativity, perseverance, and math and science skills came up, as usual. However – something I hadn’t heard before was said – that engineers need visual spatial reasoning: i.e. being able to look at a 2 dimensional shape and visualizing it in 3 dimensions. This is particularly important in engineering, as we use isometric projections in engineering and technical drawings all the time, not just for individual parts in mechanical engineering, but also for tiny parts in bioengineering and large projects in civil engineering. Seen on the right is a quiz not unlike something you might see in a college mechanical engineering class – looking at the 2d view on the left, pick the corresponding isometric view.
After a look at the different types of engineering fields and a quick introduction to civil engineering, students roleplayed civil engineers – designing paper towers with a single sheet of 8.5″x11″ paper and 6″ of tape – sharing designs, and then improving their designs. One student (seen here) had a really aesthetically pleasing tower! And finally – we wrapped up with a quick College 101 session with Gabby and Zandria.