Program Helps Elementary School Students Learn That Engineers Solve Problems

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Engineers solve problems. That's the message some two dozen students from West Liberty Middle School learned during a two-week University of Iowa College of Engineering program designed to encourage the students to pursue studies in engineering, mathematics and the sciences when they are ready to attend college.

Taught by recent UI engineering graduates and other volunteers, the program, called "Engineering Is Elementary," uses engineering storybooks, developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, containing projects for students to build and test. For example, a story called "Saving Salila's Turtle" might ask students to develop an environmental engineering solution involving a device to filter water.

Program organizers say that West Liberty was chosen for the free program because it is close to Iowa City and it has a large ethnic minority population. They note that a recent National Academy of Engineering report stated that without high-quality, knowledge-intensive jobs and the innovative enterprises that lead to discovery and new technology, the U.S. economy will suffer, and Americans will face a lower standard of living. In order to develop the needed skills and interests, students should be exposed to engineering concepts at a young age, the report advised.

Some of the companies sponsoring the program include the following: West Liberty Foods; Iowa State Bank & Trust; Dr. Carol Moreno, D.D.S.; and Henderson-Barker funeral home.

Participating students, all of West Liberty, included: Ryan Alpen, Riley Anderson, Christian Aragon, Dorian Aragon, Brett Becker, Hailey Cox, Hector Cruz, Lane DeVore, Jesus (Chuy) Garcia, Troy Heick, Elliot Henderson, Kohlton Kober, Hector Martinez, Jesus Mejia, Shania Minor, Elizabeth Muncy, Jose

Murguia, Austin Newton, Noel Palma, Ashley Reyes, Aneth Ramon, Maya Stevenson, Randy Tapia and Dylan VanDusen.

Participating UI graduates and other volunteers included:

IOWA

Cedar Rapids: James Ankrum, Bachelor of Science, biomedical engineering, spring 2007.

Dubuque: Nicole Heacock, Bachelor of Science, mechanical engineering, spring 2007; Emily Fassbinder, 1st grade elementary teacher, University of Northern Iowa graduate.

Marion: William Liechty, bachelor of science, chemical engineering, spring 2007.

ILLINOIS

Galena: Laura Hirschey, UI senior majoring in music education.