Earlier this year, the Foundation for Family Science & Engineering provided a professional development workshop for educators, college students, and community partners in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state. So far, that one, hands-on workshop, which trained 45 volunteers on the Family Engineering program, has led to multiple workshops and events designed to expose more children and families to the hands-on fun of science and engineering exploration, strengthen STEM skills, and inspire more students to pursue STEM-related careers.
The original workshop was sponsored by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL is a co-founder of the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory, which sponsored the activities highlighted below.
Family Engineering Event, May 2014: After warming up with Opener activities, such as “Tumbling Towers” and “Learning From Failure,” 95 local family members tested their engineering skills to build a moveable “Artistic Robot” using a plastic cup, tongue depressors, markers, masking tape, a rubber eraser, and a motor.
Professional Development Workshop, Summer 2014: More than 20 middle school teachers from Ochoa Middle School attended a half-day seminar, “Exploring the STEM Toolbox: Family Engineering” where presenters from PNNL, assisted by students and alumni from Delta High School, helped the teachers explore engineering activities and connections to Next Generation Science Standards.
Summer STEM Enrichment for Local Students: Yakima Valley/Tri-Cities MESA and the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Colalboratory teamed up to provide a summer STEM event for K-12 boys and local Girl Scouts in Pasco, WA which included Family Engineering Openers and an Engineering Challenge activity. Sponsors reported that the students demonstrated perserverance through the engineering design process, and enjoyed working together to master each challenge.
Family Engineering Event, August 2014: PNNL staff members and their children attended a summer STEM event focused on “Simple Machines and Paper Engineering.” The day’s core activity was Family Engineering’s “Create a Critter,” which was perfectly suited for the theme of the day.
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) received a $30,000 grant from Verizon Foundation to promote Family Engineering. The grant was used to host a STEAM Teacher Workshop in Fall 2013 and then to host a 1/2-day Family Engineering Teacher Workshop in Spring 2014. DPS purchased 31 Family Engineering Kits to be distributed to teachers who both attended the Family Engineering Teacher Workshop and completed a Family Engineering application which outlined their plan to hold a Family Engineering event at their school. A total of 16 schools attended the Spring 2014 workshop. DPS will be hosting another training event to complete the Family Engineering Kit distribution.
Two Michigan Technological University (MTU) students conducted a Children’s Engineering Exploration, as part of Michigan Tech’s Annual Alumni Reunion, August 7-10, 2014, using a Family Engineering activity. Both presenters are members of the National Society of Black Engineers: Anza Mitchell (from Georgia), is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, and Terrianna Bradley (from Detroit), is a junior in Environmental Engineering.
Building boats, packaging, and designing safe intersections were on the program for the first Family Transportation Activity Night held at Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School near Gulfport, Mississippi. Short opener and longer design challenge activities from the Family Engineering book were a part of the more than two dozen hands on activities offered that related to transportation. Parents and children compared packaging in Boxing Beans, designed an aerodynamic vehicle in Against the Wind, designed ‘cargo ships’ in Learning from Failure, and practiced their communication skills in Learning to Communicate.
“The Family Engineering book was an excellent resource for designing this transportation-themed program,” explained Joan Chadde, event coordinator. More than three dozen students and faculty from eight universities in five Midwestern states descended upon Ocean Springs to conduct activities for the event, held on February 25th. All event volunteers were trained remotely by Chadde via several webinars.
“This event was a great way to get the students excited about learning,” observed Assistant Principal Mary Rodgers, “and thinking about their future career path.” The family night was funded by the University of Wisconsin Madison Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research & Education (CFIRE) which coordinates hubs at ten midwestern universities. (http://www.wistrans.org/cfire/education/k-12/events/)
The excitement was contagious at Henry Ford Elementary School’s first Family Engineering Night held on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. Over 200 participants packed the cafeteria to work together on fun, hands-on activities that explored the exciting world of engineering. Family Engineering is a national program that promotes creative problem solving, teamwork, and communication as it increases families’ understanding and appreciation of the role engineering plays in everyday life. The top four family favorite Opener activities were: Glue is the Clue, Arches, Domino Diving Board and Soundproof packages.
Wcwnr participants also tackled two Engineering Challenge activities. The first challenge had families Mining for Chocolate in two different chocolate chip cookies. As a bonus, they were able to eat anything they extracted. Families also enjoyed designing and building a pipe cleaner structure in the Team Up challenge. It was amazing to see children between the ages of 3-11 explaining to their parents the best way to complete the challenges.
Kathleen McCormick, a Science Enrichment teacher at Henry Ford Elementary School and Patricia Hartshorn, a professor in U of M -Dearborn’s Natural Science Department were the event coordinators. Both educators commented on the amazing support the event received from the community and wanted to thank all their community partners:
A quote from Donna and Hassan Khalil sums up the event perfectly: “BEST SCIENCE NIGHT EVER !!!!!”