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Robots, rockets, snap circuits, drones: Local K-12 kids experience STEM at engineering and tech day

Robots, rockets, snap circuits, drones: Local K-12 kids experience STEM at engineering and tech day

Author: Elisabeth Weems

Forget the rain outside -- one of the newest student organizations at Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology got local school children riled up about engineering and technology Saturday in collaboration with the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery during the first Engineering + Technology Day.

The Renaissance Engineers – whose primary mission is educational outreach – gave the kids early exposure to STEM fields through hands-on activities, 3-D printing and robotics lab tours, and mentoring by Russ College students, faculty and staff.

“Creating for good, in our minds, has a few different dimensions,” Engineering Fundamentals Lecturer Athan Vouzianas, the organization’s advisor. “Today, we’re creating for good by exposing young learners to engineering and technology. We’re giving them some activities that we hope will create some kind of interest for them.”

Demonstration stations engaged visitors with marshmallow and newspaper towers, a robotic arm, a human-powered vehicle, rockets, battlebots, snap circuits, drones, and more.

At the bungee drop station, students built bungee cords from rubber bands to support the descent of a stuffed toy from the third floor, aiming to get close to the ground without touching it. Demonstration facilitator and Engineering Fundamentals Lecturer Todd Fantz explained how the activity applied engineering principles like elasticity and acceleration in a fun way, to engage children and broaden their perceived career options.

“My fundamental belief is that we can get more students to study engineering if we can make those connections between math, science and the fun aspects of engineering,” Fantz said. “What this allows is for students to see how what they’re learning in the classroom can be applied to real life activities.”

Industrial and systems engineering junior Saruda Seeharit recently joined the Renaissance Engineers just for its benevolent mission.

“I like the concept of create for good,” Seeharit said. “We can use our engineering skills to help other people.”

The event also inspired conversations between curious children and their parents. Guysville resident and OHIO alumna Heather Rockhold, B.S. ’96, said her nine-year-old son Gavin enjoys hands-on learning, and she supports him as he explores his interests.

“This event is great for multiple reasons,” Rockhold said. “For bringing him around the OHIO campus and higher education, and for exploring and making learning fun,” she said. “I just want him to enjoy learning, and he tends to like science the way I do. No matter what it is, I want to encourage him to have fun with it.”

Colleen Carow contributed to this story.

Foaming chemicals on a table
Kid on laptop
Young kids looking at a computer monitor
Kids watching a chemical reaction
Girl controlling a robotic arm with a remote control
Boy in sit down bike