4th Grade Days - February 19-22, 2019
In the honor of National Engineers Week 2019, Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers organized over 30 volunteers to visit 38 classrooms across the Central Coast as part of their annual 4th Grade Days Event. Before the week long event, teachers were sent a promo video to present to their class, which starred a group of friendly pirates who who discovered a hole in their sinking ship, and only had everyday items to build a new one (link to video).
During the event, students became a part of the story as the group of pirates needed the fourth graders’ help to build a new ship. When visiting classrooms, volunteers first gave a brief introduction to engineering where they explained basic concepts of why objects float. Volunteers led the students in a boat design challenge where they were divided into teams of three and tasked to build a pirate ship. This activity was concluded with a competition where teams tested their boats to see which could hold the most weight while floating on the open sea. Students were given no example or model for their ship, encouraging them to use their imaginations and work with their teammates to come up with a design that would carry the pirates to shore.
This year, 4th Grade Days reached over 1,000 students in just four days, exceeding the previous record for the event. In an effort to outreach to underserved communities, dozens of volunteers drove over half an hour to reach their classrooms, providing the opportunity to meet role models and participate in an engineering activity to those students who might not normally have exposure to engineering. The event’s goal was to not only introduce students to the possibilities of engineering, but also encourage members of the Cal Poly community to give back through volunteering and planning the event. With three months to prepare, a subcommittee of ten people expanded their leadership and project management skills to serve their community.