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Fifth and Sixth Graders Invade the U

March 18, 2004 — The University of Utah’s student body may appear younger than usual Monday March 29 through Thursday April 1 as 1,700 fifth- and sixth-grade students converge on campus for the College of Engineering’s annual Elementary Engineering Week.

More than 400 students are registered to attend each day of the program, which will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Olpin Union Building.

News media are invited to cover the event, which is not open to the general public.

The event, enormously popular for several years, allows fifth- and sixth-grade students to visit campus and experience first-hand the excitement and challenge of tackling engineering problems, such as building towers and racing objects through water.

This year, the participating elementary students also will have the opportunity to visit demonstration tables hosted by engineering students and departments. Their activities will include launching baking-soda-and-vinegar rockets, building small catapults to launch marshmallows, and constructing dome-shaped structures made of toothpicks and gumdrops to test how well they withstand a simulated earthquake on a shaking table.

Elementary Engineering Week is the first trip to the University of Utah for many of the students, and it provides 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 when they arrive so they may continue the excitement for learning about engineering concepts when they return to their classrooms.

Cash prizes will be awarded to schools for participation, thanks to a generous contribution from ConocoPhillips.