Students Build Toward the Future at Engineering Fair | Schools
To spark interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, Jacksonville Country Day School (JCDS) held its annual Engineering Fair on Friday, January 20, 2012. Vincent Barre, manager of plastic engineering at Vistakon, talked to students about their work and gave a presentation at the event.
The fair generated curiosity and excitement about engineering by encouraging students to follow the process of asking, imagining, planning, creating, and improving. For the past few months, each grade level at the school has been preparing for the fair with a curriculum focusing on a particular engineering science, such as aerospace or chemical engineering. For example, the kindergarten worked on mechanical engineering by constructing windmills. Other grade levels built magnetic levitation trains, designed parachutes to land a rover on Mars, and constructed submersible robots.
“The magnetic levitation train project was challenging. The first models didn’t work, so the students had to adjust and redesign their models so that they worked,” said Tajal Datar, a third grade teacher at JCDS. “They had to figure it out for themselves.”
Kim Watkins, a parent of a sixth grader at JCDS, said, “The best part is the excitement the kids have and the knowledge they have gained. As people ask about the engineering models, they don’t just tell what happens. They tell you why it happens.”
JCDS recognizes the importance of scientific and mathematical skills for economic growth. The engineering focus at JCDS also includes cooperative learning in teams, building communication skills, environmental conservation, and character education. According to Boston’s Museum of Science, JCDS was one of the first elementary schools to integrate an engineering unit in all of its primary grades.