May 16, 2017
ORANGEVILLE, Ontario – A group of students got the chance to tackle a wide range of problem-solving challenges faced by engineers every day.
On May 16, Spencer Avenue ES held Engineering Day. Approximately 30 students in grades 4 to 8 spent the day learning about the multi-faceted world of engineering and cycled through workshops led by six professional engineers.
The school currently participates in the “Engineers in Residence” program. Jim Baxter, a ground water resource engineer, was matched with the school and volunteers his time to work with classes on groundwater issues. With the hopes of expanding student exposure to engineering, teacher-librarian Sandra McLarnon organized Engineering Day.
Tuesday began with a short video and talk by representatives from the Engineers in Residence program, who discussed the wide variety of specializations and jobs within the industry and all the different sorts of problems that engineers work to solve.
From there, the students broke into smaller groups and cycled through six work stations, each led by a different professional engineer, specializing in electrical, ground water resource, mechanical, chemical, material, and environmental engineering.
The overall theme for the day was environmental sustainability, and activities at the different stations were rooted in addressing environmental and global issues.
The hands-on activities included learning about electricity and how it flows, building water wells, building water distribution systems and constructing water filtration systems. At one station, the students used automation to build a circuit that will dim lights automatically when sufficient daylight is available, thereby saving energy.
The water filtration activity also pulled in issues of social justice. Each student was assigned a different country and was allocated a different amount of money to buy supplies to build a water filtration system. Whereas the USA was allocated more money, countries like Malawi and Ghana were allocated very little money. The instructions for buying supplies and building the systems differed depending on the literacy rate for each country. Where the instructions for the USA were written out clearly, instructions for Malawi where the literacy rate is lower were not clear. The activity showed the how a nation’s wealth and literacy rate can affect building vital infrastructure like water filtration systems.
Today’s event was a pilot project for the school. They are hoping to do something again during Engineering Month next March.