April 03, 2003 — About 2,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students will descend on the University of Utah during April 7-11 as the U’s College of Engineering hosts Elementary Engineering Week.
About 400 students are registered to attend each day of the program, which will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the ballroom of the Olpin Union Building.
The event has been enormously popular for several years, allowing fifth- and sixth-grade students to come to campus and experience first-hand the excitement and challenge of tackling engineering problems, such as building towers, racing objects through water and – this year – demonstrating small-scale roller coasters.
For many students, this will be their first trip to the University of Utah, providing them with an exciting glimpse of higher education. The program reinforces strong positive feelings for education, especially math and science.
Teachers are eager to participate in this program as it gives them a chance to engage their students in creative, hands-on learning. Each school will bring 30 to 100 students. They will spend the morning learning how engineers solve problems and work in teams. Teachers are given curriculum-related materials both before the event and when they arrive to continue the excitement for learning about engineering concepts. This year, the schools have been asked to bring a roller coaster, which the students will have constructed in class, to demonstrate how creative and resourceful engineers can be.
Cash prizes will be awarded for participation, with generous contributions from ConocoPhillips and members of the American Council of Engineering Companies, Utah. A solar car project, including information on how solar fuel cells work and an actual toy car, also will be awarded to each participating school.