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Classroom Activities for Engineers Week

Jacqui Murray

This week, February 18-24, 2018, is DiscoverE's Engineers Week. Their tagline: "A week-long event, a year-long commitment." Do you wonder why anyone would be passionate about engineering? Forbes published three good reasons:

  • The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median.
  • Job growth from 2010 to 2014 was in the double digits in several engineering occupations.
  • Since 2007, the number of engineering grads nationwide has shot up 33 percent.

The Forbes article (above) was printed in 2014 but really, little has changed -- which explains the excitement about Engineers Week.

Classroom Activities: What is Engineers Week?

For those not familiar with DiscoverE, sponsors of Engineers Week, they are a volunteer-driven online coalition of more than 100 organizations committed to promoting engineering via classroom activities to the K-16 community. This includes classroom activities like the provision of resources, programs, in-person presentations, classroom assistance, training, activities, videos, books, technology programs, and more. The purpose of Engineers Week is as much to celebrate engineers as to increase public dialogue, in that way bringing them to life for kids, educators, and parents. With the national call for STEM resources and the popularity of programs such as Hour of Code, the talented professionals of DiscoverE are more in-demand than ever: "93% of DiscoverE educators think an engineer's presence helps STEM students."

Education Applications

DiscoverE programs are much more than pamphlets and presentations. Look at these 10 popular applications of DiscoverE programs for the classroom:

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Bring Students to an Engineer's Lab

Not only do most kids not know an engineer, they haven’t seen engineering in action. Through DiscoverE, a group of students can spend the day in an engineer's lab, meet his/her colleagues, see a project they're working on, and ask questions. If an entire class is too big a commitment, many engineers allow individual students to shadow them during their workday -- see what the life of an engineer is really like.

Classroom Visit

More than 55,000 engineers and technicians are available to bring engineering to the classroom through interactive presentations filled with hands-on activities, videos, and compelling messages. This is a great way to share the excitement of engineering with new enthusiasts and/or nurture a passion already there. If the interest at your school is bigger, engineers can make an all-school presentation at a middle- or high-school career day.

Dream Big

Dream Big” is a HUGE film that takes viewers on a journey of discovery from the world’s tallest building to a bridge higher than the clouds and a solar car race across Australia.  The film not only shows the ingenuity behind these marvels, it reveals the heart that drives engineers to create better lives for people worldwide. Find where it's playing in your neighborhood and organize a field trip. Also available are lesson plans and activity guides to help you incorporate “Dream Big into your classroom.

Engineers Week

Held usually in February, Engineers Week celebrates how engineers make a difference in the world. Teachers can sponsor engineering-themed events, post them to the website's calendar, and join the festivities.

Family Day

For 26 years, Family Day has introduced 4-12-year-olds to the wonders of engineering. Often staged at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., engineers of all types are on hand to share their love of the design-and-build process with parents, students, educators, and families. In the past, Family Day attendees have met an astronaut, a NASCAR champion, and seen an engineer ascend to the top of the National Building Museum.

Future City

Future City challenges middle-school students to take four months to imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future using the free platform SimCity. When done, they build a scale model of their city and present it to a panel of judges. Through this challenging event, student participants are not only prepared to be citizens of today’s complex and technical world, they are poised to become the drivers of tomorrow.

Girl Day

Girl Day supports the growing movement to inspire girls to take their place in engineering a better world. When you give girls the chance to think like an engineer, you’ll be amazed at what they come up with.

Global Day

Global Day is the worldwide event that celebrates and recognizes engineers. Participants share photos, honor colleagues, and/or engage students in everything engineering.

Global Marathon

This free, five-week series of online conversations is a virtual mentorship and social collaboration designed to unite, inspire, and champion women pursuing an engineering (or technology) career. It includes panelists from around the globe who address a relevant topic affecting women in the early stages of their professional career.

Hands-on Activities

DiscoverE offers a wide selection of hands-on, science-fair-type activities to inspire and motivate students. These include Coding with computers, Make a teepee, Design a wind turbine, and more. Each details appropriate grades, time required, and step-by-step activities. If you run a program where students create hands-on science projects for a competition or just to share, this is a must.

Mentoring

DiscoverE engineers will help you organize your own engineering-themed program, serve as a mentor to interested students and groups, provide technical coaching, and/or coach your team once created.

Recognition of Award Winners

Submit a student's or educator's name who is a stand-out future engineer to DiscoverE's New Faces program. Honorees are hosted on the website with their bio and what makes them stand out from all others. This is a great opportunity for talented young engineers-in-training to be honored for what they have already accomplished.

If your school has a dedicated science and/or engineering fair, DiscoverE professionals are happy to participate as a judge in your events.

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You can't have a STEM program at your school without considering DiscoverE's engineering programs.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 25 years. She is the editor/author of more than 100 ed-tech resourcesm, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed-tech, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.