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  • Writer's pictureCal Poly SWE Webmaster

Fourth Grade Days:

From February 20th through 23rd, Cal Poly SWE celebrated National Engineers Week with its annual 4th Grade Days event. Over 90 SWE volunteers visited 54 fourth grade classrooms throughout San Luis Obispo County, ranging from schools right across the street from Cal Poly to others as far as Santa Maria. This year, 4th Grade Days reached over 1500 students! 4th Grade Days aims to empower kids to explore STEM and offer diverse representation of engineers. Our outreach to elementary schools focuses on underprivileged areas that may lack the resources to provide STEM exposure.This year, our superhero-themed 4th Grade Days activity explored mechanical engineering. SWE’s freshmen representatives filmed a silly skit to lay out an engineering challenge for the students: Captain Catapult needed help building catapults to defeat Water Witch and save SWEtopia! During the hour-long classroom visits, SWE volunteers led an interactive presentation that defined engineering, offered examples of various branches of engineering, and explained the engineering design process. Then, after students watched the challenge video, volunteers guided the students through designing and building their own catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and tape. Volunteers encouraged students to collaborate and merge their designs. Students used pom-pom “fireballs” to test their catapults and make improvements to their design based on the test results. Some classes even engaged in a launching competition! The classroom visits concluded with a debrief of the activity in which students shared what they learned, how they approached challenges, and how they improved their designs. We hope that 4th Grade Days shapes students’ view of engineering as a diverse and creative field, mitigating the STEM bias that often develops at this age.

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