Engineering outreach brings 3rd to 12th grade students to Rutgers for variety of interactive activities
More than 160 schoolchildren learned how to build bridges, create catapults, develop apps or make glass last week during Rutgers’ annual "Young Engineers Day."
The School of Engineering hosted 165 students from nine different schools as part of "Young Engineers Day" last Wednesday in the Busch Student Center, said Assistant Dean Michael Brown.
Participants enjoyed a host of activities while learning about the Rutgers School of Engineering and how to apply engineering concepts to practical uses.
“'Young Engineers Day' is a program that we do just to provide outreach, understanding of engineering and the School of Engineering community for third grade to 12th-grade students," he said. “Many students haven’t thought of … what they can do related to engineering. This is an exposure for a lot of those students.”
The day also helps students who are interested in engineering or related science, technology or math fields learn more about Rutgers as a school and connect with current college students and organizations, he said.
The goal is to ensure students learn about the school and its engineering programs while connecting with the students and volunteers who assist the events, he said.
“Believe it or not, this was the first National Engineers Week program that was done for the School of Engineering,” Brown said. “A lot of the other activities are either for students that are already on campus, some are for the community and they can openly come and support the school, (but) this particular activity is to build interest in the School of Engineering in those schools that can be feeders for our particular program.”
Around 10 different student organizations within the school hosted 14 different activities for the schoolchildren last week, he said.
Many of the volunteers’ first exposure to engineering came from similar events, Brown said. For others, participating in "Young Engineers Day" was just a way for them to help students learn about different concepts.
The activities covered an array of different fields within the School of Engineering, from creating candy glass to bridges to Android applications using the MIT App Inventor, he said.
Other groups built and raced small cars or made structures out of cardboard, he said.
“This is just an exciting program for us. It’s one of the few times that we really get to connect with the community, to do something that builds interest and outreach that’s separate from admissions,” Brown said. “We can strengthen the pipeline and do something for the students so they feel like they have a personal connection with us.”
One team built shelters using cardboard, string, bamboo sticks and garbage bags, said Michelle Mac Pherson, an administrative assistant in the School of Engineering’s Department of Student Services.
“It’s hands-on … (students) are split into teams and two members are blindfolded. One student leads the way and that’s one aspect of (the project),” she said.
The event is one of several designed to promote engineering in general and the school at Rutgers during National Engineer's Week, she said.
“This is our largest program. This is the most schools we’ve ever had come out, it’s the most projects we’ve ever had,” Brown said. “Honestly I’m very happy with the program this year and after talking to guidance counselors and teachers that are here today, they seem very satisfied also.”