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U Hosts Elementary Engineering Week

Students use plastic drinking straws to build towers that must withstand wind gusts during last year’s Elementary Engineering Week. This year’s event during March 24-28 will draw 2,000 Wasatch Front fifth- and sixth-graders. The week of activities is hosted by the University of Utah College of Engineering.

March 21, 2014 – Flying jumbo marshmallows, pyramids of drinking straws and sculpted clay “fish” will help 2,000 elementary students from 24 Wasatch Front schools understand engineering concepts during Elementary Engineering Week, March 24-28.

Hosted by the University of Utah College of Engineering, Elementary Engineering Week is open to the media but closed to the general public. These activities will be held Monday, March 24 through Friday, March 28 between 9:30 a.m. and noon at the university’s Olpin Union building.

The annual event’s hands-on activities introduce students to the basic math and science that engineers use to improve lives. These principles are reinforced by contests, which include building drinking straw towers and launching marshmallows from a catapult. The contests also demonstrate engineering’s impact on daily life at a crucial moment in the young students’ educations.

“Elementary Engineering Week provides us with the opportunity to show these young students what engineering is and encourage them to explore the exciting possibilities it presents,” says Jeff Bates, event co-coordinator.

The College of Engineering’s undergraduate and graduate students will use accuracy and design to evaluate the young students’ creations for this year’s contests, which include:

— Straw Towers Contest – Students use drinking straws to build tall towers that can withstand simulated wind gusts. Prizes are awarded for the tallest standing towers.

— Catapult Contest – Schools will bring more than 75 small, student-built catapults for demonstrations in which jumbo marshmallows are launched at a pie tin target 12 feet away. Prizes are awarded to teams that hit the target.

— Fish Blitz Contest – Clay fish are pulled by a weight through a tank of water. Students change the shape of their fish, which alters how quickly or slowly they move through the water. Prizes are awarded for both the fastest and slowest fish.

During the event, university student engineering groups will demonstrate projects and describe their engineering majors.

Phillips 66 has donated $10,000 to support math and science education at participating elementary schools.

For more information, please click here.