Oak Hills Elementary in Beaverton, Oregon hosted two, fun-filled Family Engineering Nights during the 2012-13 school year. Three third grade classes and their families (over 200 participants between two events) gathered in the school gymnasium to test their engineering design skills with self-guided, hands-on Opener activities and two facilitated Engineering Challenges (Team Up! and Mining for Chocolate).
The event got high marks from both parents and children, with many students remarking that “working with my family” was the best part of the evening.
The event was made possible through a grant from the Beaverton Education Foundation and was hosted by third grade teachers Chris Amorose, Susan Grossen, and Charles Geier. They hope to host more Family Engineering Nights this fall to allow even more students and families to participate.
Michigan Technological University received $5000 from John Deere to support STEM Outreach to underrepresented K-12 students through minority STEM chapters. The student chapters of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), American Indian Science e & Engineering Society (AISES), and the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE), will travel to schools in Detroit, MI in order to encourage more Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students to aspire to become scientists and engineers. This effort will consist of classroom presentations by Michigan Tech students as well as Family Engineering Nights for K-8 students and their parents held at several Detroit elementary schools in partnership with Detroit Public Schools Office of Science, and the Detroit Math & Science Center.
The first Family Engineering Night will be held April 25 at Gogebic Community College with over 300 attendees expected. The event was supported by the Michigan STEM Partnership/Western UP Superior STEM Hub which contributed $1500 to support the effort.
Ten members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) will spend their spring break in Detroit, working to inspire younger students to explore engineering as a career option. For eight of them, it’s a trip home, since they attended Detroit schools. The other two students are from Africa.
These engineering advocates will visit middle and high schools to talk about their experiences and to encourage students to check out the world of engineering. They’ll engage the classroom students in several Family Engineering actiities to hook their interest and keep them “listening” throughout their 50-minute classroom presentations.
“The goal is to show these kids that college is attainable by having them talk with students who share some of the experiences and have done it,” said Joan Chadde, education program coordinator for the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Tech.
Bt the Tech students will do much more than talk–they’ll engage families in hands-on activities at several Family Engineering Night events that they will conduct at some of the schools, as well as share inspiring personal experiences. Activities include “Mining for Chocolate,” “Brainsaver,” and “Launcher,” enabling the whole family to participate and get inspired by engineering.
“This is a great way to increase diversity on our campus, but more importantly, to have students who can relate to these kids and show them that a college education and career in STEM is possible for them,” said Chadde.
Forty middle and high school girls and their parents attended Michigan Tech’s first Parent-Daughter Engineering Exploration Day on February 23. A dozen young women engineering students from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) shared their experiences and enthusiasm for their chosen career path and led the group through a variety of fun, hands-on Family Engineering activities. The activities demonstrated how engineering is used to create prosthetic limbs, provide safety equipment, and design ways to improve our quality of life.
Kay LaFond, an environmental engineering graduate student, explained, “We want to reach out to girls when they are starting to think about what they want to do. Engineering is about creativity and making a difference.”
“There are lots of jobs in engineering,” observed Jen Fuller, who is pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering. “Many companies are looking for women engineers to diversity their workforce. In addition, an engineering degree is versatile. It prepares you for jobs in many related fields, such as marketing, research, sales, etc.”
The event was organized by the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach and funded by the College of Engineering, Department of Engineering Fundamentals, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Family Engineering received excellent exposure in the December 2012 issue of NSTA’s journal for elementary school educators, “Science and Children.” The article, “Family Style Engineering” was written by Lara K. Smetana, Joan Chadde Schumaker, Wendy Severin Goldfien, and Cheryl Nelson and highlights Family Engineering’s nationally proven model for implementing effective Family Engineering events.