It is officially National Engineering Month in Ontario and our students in Avon Maitland District School Board had an opportunity to explore various aspects of engineering at the NEM Exploration Day on Saturday, March 2nd in Stratford. In partnership with the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologist (OACETT), National Engineering Month and HPCDSB, Avon Maitland District School Board hosted over 75 of our students and parents.
These students worked with student volunteers, organizers and parents in a variety of engineering tasks in the morning. Students tried their hand at flying drones and built electrical circuits, as well as creating robotic arms using straws and string. The students worked with Katie Gregory-Mooney, Program Coordinator for the Structural Packaging Design & Management program at Conestoga College, on designing and creating 3D objects with corrugated cardboard. Students were also challenged to build the strongest suspension bridge using only masking tape, two metal stands and a piece of cardboard.
Experiential Learning Coordinator Jodi Froud said “the variety of hands-on learning opportunities engaged the students in the morning and set the stage for the robotic arm challenge in the afternoon. It was a great opportunity for parents to be involved with the students and to work with them on inquiry based tasks students participated in throughout the day. They were challenged to reflect on engineering related inquiries and they had to apply that thinking during the challenges.”
In the afternoon, some of the students participated in a Popsicle Stick Bridge Challenge. Some students made them at home and others were made in classrooms. There was a tie for the strongest bridge and two of the winners came from Anne Hathaway Public School and Elma Public School. The afternoon also brought together students and parents to build a robotic arm using only a few materials. The students had to use critical thinking, communication, imagination and problem solving in order to create a robotic arm that could pick up an eraser and move it back onto the table.
South Perth Centennial School teacher Brenda Pincombe was a supporter of the event and brought 9 students from her class. “It was a fun, hands-on approach to learning about the components of engineering and how it is used in day to day functions while also integrating life skills such as collaboration, problem solving and perseverance!” said Pincombe. “It was an awesome experience mixed with fun and challenging activities. We loved the robotic arm work, the bridge testing and building. We all had a blast!” said a group of students from Pincombe’s class.
Institute for Engineering Technology of Ontario Western Region Councillor for OACETT Michael Mooney, who spearheaded the event in Stratford, is looking to create more conversation surrounding engineering in elementary schools. “Event feedback was extremely positive and it was clear our first annual NEM Exploration Day was a great success, thanks in large part to the dedication of our local partners AMDSB and HPCDSB. We are looking forward to bringing this event back again next year,” said Mooney. He is hoping that the event will focus on a different engineering topic each year and that even more students and parents will join next year to participate in the day in support of National Engineering Month.