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Pre-Ks Get Into Engineering

Students Watch Demonstration

Educators say that the best way to get kids interested in engineering is to start teaching the basics at a very young age. That’s an axiom that engineering academics at Behrend College, part of the Pennsylvania State University System, have clearly taken to heart, according to the Erie Times News. They recently introduced a Play with Engineering program for 4- and 5-year-olds at the college’s Early Learning Center. The program was the brainstorm of Melanie Ford, an engineering lecturer at the college. “Most kids associate engineers with trains,” Ford told the newspaper. “One of my goals . . . is to just get kids of all ages to look at things a little differently.”

The trick with tots this young is how to introduce them to basic engineering concepts while simultaneously holding their interest. So, Ford’s team came up with four play stations: “Bee-Bots” required the kids to program a bee to land on picture within a grid; “Face” had them design a face then use a magnetic want to add hair and features; in Soccer they played the game using toy frogs and turtles manipulated with magents; and “Magnet Magic” used several experiments that showed how magnets work. The kids, the paper reports, squealed with delight at each table and were enthralled by the demonstrations. Tyler Szczesny, a mechanical engineering senior who helped out, was likewise impressed, and somewhat jealous. Said he to the paper: “I wish when we were little we had this.”

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