For the past 3 years my kids have been involved in ChiSE, the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering program. I wish that I had heard of the program much sooner. At 10 and 7 they missed out on many years of what could have been some great instruction in the field of engineering. However, the program has been amazing since they started. Only a handful of students from Chicago area schools are chosen to participate in the program based on grades and performance in schools. I am blessed that all 4 of mine are able to participate. I feel that they now have a good understanding of what engineering is and how it works. The program gets parents involved too. We are required to attend several of the sessions so that we always know what our students are learning.
The portion of the program that my girls were in last year focused on structural engineering. Their class project was to create a design for a rebuilt version of a bridge in downtown Chicago. First they learned about the different types of bridges. Then they learned about the structure, why they are stable, and how to build them. Their ending project was to build their own bridges out of Popsicle sticks.
My boy’s program was all about electrical engineering. They learned about negative and positive electrons, why they attract, and how electricity flows. Balloons were used to demonstrate static electricity. And magnets were used to demonstrate attraction and repulsion. They really enjoyed the class and came home with nothing but good things to say. Each program also includes field trips to the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago so that the kids can see some of what they learned being used up close and personal.
I can recall learning similar things in school and it was always a good time. Hands-on learning is more fun and interesting, and therefore makes more of an impact. I am pretty sure that my interest in engineering helped fuel my career path and my current tech obsession. In fact, my original plan for college was to go to school for electrical engineering. I then chickened out thinking that it would be way too hard. LOL. But, my love of technology and figuring out how things work did not leave. From a young age I would take disassemble small appliances in the house, inspect them and put them back together. No, my mother was not too found of that habit. 🙂
DiscoverE is another great engineering organization. The purpose is to foster and grow an interest in the engineering profession. This is accomplished with the help of thousands of volunteers from more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. The program helps parents find resources to get their children interested in engineering.
It is important to teach our children about engineering. Engineering teaches them important problem solving skills. Being an engineer is one of the most important careers in the world. Engineers are responsible for creating so much of what we use from day to day. Without engineering, technology would be quite a bit behind where we are now. As my boys learned in class, the job of an engineer is to assess a problem, and then create a solution to fix it. It is great when kids are introduced to these facts in a fun way. Right now, the Future City Competition is going on in Washington, DC. It gives young engineers a chance to showcase cities that they have designed and built using the skills that they have learned. Hopefully my kids can take part in something similar.
Check out the below video where Ariel shared her excitement on being involved in engineering.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by DiscoverE. All opinions are my own.