Thorne Middle School Students Go to Rutgers For National Engineers Week
A Rutgers engineering student couldn’t hold back her smile when the group of sixth graders she was instructing in a water filtration project all shot up their hands when asked, “Who wants to be an engineer?”
This students were participating in a National Engineers Week event at Rutgers University on Wednesday, with student instructors from the School of Engineering.
Young Engineering Students (YES) Day on the Rutgers’ Busch campus in Piscataway included a series of age appropriate events for elementary, middle and high school students.
Thorne Middle School teacher Lauren Rogers was participating for the second year with her seventh grade students from Middletown. The kids love the program, she says, and she likes that her students have a hands on engineering experience.
“These projects are a wonderful way to expose students to engineering as a career opportunity,” she said, also sharing her plans to host a Young Engineering Students Day at Thorne this spring so more students can participate.
Third and fourth graders from Adamsville Elementary School in Bridgewater competed in an essay contest to determine who would get to attend the workshop answering the question, “What do engineers do?”
Eight-year-old Logan, who was working with three other students constructing a roller coaster that would transport a marble from beginning to end without stopping, said he wrote about how he liked to build things with Legos.
As the group lay on their stomachs devising hills and valleys to generate momentum for their marble, they discussed strategy and handed each other pieces of tape and foam track. When it was time to test their engineering skills the marble didn’t quite make it to its final destination, but after a quick group discussion everyone was back on the floor reconfiguring the track for another try.
Other activities included building a chair out of cardboard that could stand up to a high school student sitting in it for five minutes without it collapsing, cleaning up a simulated oil spill, building a zip line to safely transport an egg, and a water filtration project.
For the School of Engineering, introducing young students to the field of engineering is an important responsibility. As the national demand increases for a work force with strong technology skills greater emphasis is being placed on the disciplines of Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM).
According to Evelyn Laffey, assistant dean for engineering education at the School of Engineering, “Aside from encouraging students to pursue a career in engineering or a technical field, an important aspect of the YES program is to expose students--especially underrepresented groups--to the variety of opportunities that exist in the field of engineering from developing sustainable packaging for products to using robotics for bridge maintenance to tissue engineering, and so much more.”
Other area schools participating in YES included Plainfield High School and New Brunswick High School.
National Engineers Week, founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, is an annual celebration of the progressive contributions engineers make to society. It is celebrated annually by thousands of engineers, engineering students, teachers and leaders in government and business across the country.
The School of Engineering
Established in 1864, the School of Engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is home to educational opportunity and innovation, pursuing work of enormous relevance to society and the economy through world-class research and important industry partnerships. With seven departments and nine research centers, the School of Engineering currently enrolls 3,324 undergraduate and 724 graduate students, including 361 doctoral students, and generates more than $60 million in research expenditures annually.