Arming Kids With Engineering Knowledge
When I was in high school, one of my brother’s best friends said he was studying to be an engineer. It was fun to tease him about how we could envision him riding the rails with a conductor’s hat on. Of course, I was joking and he knew me well enough to know that (I knew) driving trains wasn’t the kind of engineer he meant. I worked at our family’s construction general contracting company and was versed enough in the industry to see the the importance of the work of architects and civil and mechanical engineers. Yet even armed with that knowledge, I had no idea how many different types of engineers there were, their diversity in different industries and their impact in the world.
Today is a different age with different rules as well as different modes for learning. Kids are constantly pounded with opportunities and activities geared around STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.) There is STEM programming available to stream, including a STEAM-centric Netflix original embracing female empowerment and boasting that smart is the new cool. As an example, a few years ago, my daughters participated in an Engineering for Kids day camp at the local museum. The following year, my collegiate Alma Mater hosted an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” event during National Engineer Week. As the name implies, it was specifically designed to increase female awareness of the skill.
And my, oh my, do they make it fun for kids! With educational games and toys like Marble Mania, K’NEX and MakerStudio, kids don’t even realize they are absorbing some basic principles behind construction, engineering and technology. They’re just playing!
Then there’s robotics. Wow. I had NO idea that such a simple product like a Lego could have such educational benefits. First Lego League as well as programs such as the camps and classes are all made possible through the support of sponsors, generally corporate sponsorships. As an example, to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of National Engineers Week, U.S. Cellular is working with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the country holding “Ask An Engineer” sessions to increase the understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. They have also provided youth with a behind-the-scenes look at how the network operates and the impact that technology and engineering have on something we take for granted every day, a quality cellular service. Such services would not be possible without the experience and know-how of talented individuals in the engineering and technology fields!
Programs vary from community to community, but you can learn more about career opportunities in engineering by visiting DiscoverE.org, the National Engineers Week website. U.S. Cellular is dedicated to educating the youth by motivating them to explore the field, thus inspiring the future a more diverse engineering workforce. These kids are the inventors, creators and problem-solvers of the future and they are able to achieve these successes through programs established and supported by corporations like U.S. Cellular and John Deere. Without the commitments of these companies, the number of educational opportunities to integrate STEM and STEAM learning into the community would be greatly diminished.
I’m grateful that my kids are blessed with such educational programs that make learning fun while encouraging them to take chances in fields that I wasn’t even aware of when I was their age.
What types of camps, events and programs are available in your community? Have you ever researched the companies that are helping to fund them?
26 thoughts on “Arming Kids With Engineering Knowledge”
Unfortunately, we live in a very tiny community, so they aren’t many programs available for my daughter. I will definitely have to look into some that are in neighboring cities.
This is awesome! My son in 3rd grader actually did a LEGO program in his classroom this fall and he LOVED it! Since science is his favorite subject he loves anything related to STEM/STEAM. All of my kids would enjoy an event like this.
Thankfully we live in a great city that offers some great camps and museums. The Works is located in a neighboring town and they go into schools to do workshops a lot. We also have a great science Museum that our kids have done some summer camps at.
when my kids were younger, they did a great educational camp every summer put on through the school’s gifted program. I was so sad when they aged out of it! Looks like yours had a lot of fun!
What a super fun camp. I love that kids can have fun learning like this. My son would love it.
That sounds like a camp that would be lots of fun for kids interested. I think programs that encourage learning, and ones that encourage girls to have an interest in things that might be predominantly male, are great.
How fun is this- and I love the real life applications!
I think here on the island each school do their on program. But don’t know how they are. These are some good ones for the kids.
I think it is great that companies are combining forces and getting kids (especially girls) interested in these fields. I wasn’t aware Lego’s were that educational either!
This is great because there aren’t enough women in STEM fields. I love the idea of exposing them to STEM careers early on.
There was a HUGE engineering program at my college and I always gave those students SO MUCH CREDIT because I just don’t understand that realm and no one ever saw them because they were ALWAYS working! I am thrilled not everyone is like me, because if that were the case, we would have NO ENGINEERS and we certainly need them! LOL!
It’s so great to see programs like these! I also really like what LEGO is doing to promote robotics, but so far, I don’t think they have any specific focus on encouraging girls in robotics.
We have a Putnam museum in Davenport, I.A. my kids have gone there for school field day trips in the past.
Great that there is place for kids to learn.
Great job on the article!
We need more programs like this one!
Its really nice to see partnerships like this.
I wish they had programs like that here where I live but we don’t and our kids suffer for that
We are empty nesters and I really haven’t checked into anything like these programs, because there was no need for me to. But I have 15 grandkids – 13 that are still in school that can benefit greatly from programs like these! It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there! Knowledge is power!!
Makers studios and Lego robotics are a great idea for getting kids interested in STEM!
Mecchano and Lego. I started my son young with the basic sets. I let him use his own imagination, rather than following a set of instructions.
Great read… love getting the kids involved any way I can….