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 !!!!!”
Wolfe Middle School in Center Line, Michigan, is one of eleven K-8 school districts in Macomb, Wayne, and Oakland counties that received a Family Engineering Program Starter Kit and the Family Engineering Activity & Event Planning Guide book through a Michigan Department of Education Improving Teacher Quality Grant. The grant, titled “Super Science for Special Teachers – Continue Changing the Equation,” was received by Lawrence Technological and Madonna Universities near Detroit. In addition to receiving the Family Engineering Starter Kit, a supplemental kit for each of the participating districts was assembled that included supplies for all of the 21 opener activities and 15 challenge activities that were not included in the starter kit.
Each of the recipient districts must host at least one Family Engineering Night during the grant period. This is a win-win for all involved–the leadership skills of participating teachers are enhanced, and hundreds of parents and students experience a fun and engaging introduction to engineering through hands-on Family Engineering activities. These hands-on experiences just might spark a future engineering career!
To date, Family Engineering Nights have been held at Mount Clemens, Wayne Westland (3), and Center Line. Coming up in Spring 2014–Taylor, Chippewa Valley, Allen Academy in Detroit, Utica and Van Dyke will host a Family Engineering Night also.
Check out this video highlighting the Wolfe Middle School event: Family Engineering Night
A group of Michigan Tech students conducted a Family Engineering Night for hundreds of eager students and their parents/caregivers at Harrison Park K-8 school in Grand Rapids on Monday, November 25th. The MTU students are part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers student chapter at Michigan Tech University in Houghton.
Title One Coordinators at elementary and middle schools in Eugene, Oregon have been busy planning Family Engineering events after receiving training on the program last spring, hosted by the 4J School District Title One Program. Family engagement is a key element of Title One programs and schools and districts often have designated funds to provide family programs. Family Engineering is a fun and exciting way to bring families together and get parents involved in their child’s education.