Kids test paper towers against winds from a box fan in the Windy City Tower activity.

What is engineering? Look around you; it’s everywhere.

The built world we live in is made possible by engineers who see challenges as opportunities and turn ideas into reality.

To encourage an interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, DiscoverE kicked off Engineers Week activities with Family Day, Feb. 17, in Washington, DC. The event brought engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.

The National Building Museum transformed into a sea of aspiring young innovators as they explored, learned, and questioned engineering wonders. With their hard hats in tow, children participated in activities like racing balloon rockets, battling LEGO robots, creating slime, and mining for minerals.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers helps kids create their very own slime.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers helps kids create slime.

“Family Day activities are a good way to show kids what civil engineers actually do,” said Anay Shah, Geologist at AECOM and event volunteer.

Among the many exhibitors at the event, ASCE National Capital Section members hosted the popular Windy City Tower activity. Featured in Dream Big: Engineering Our World, the exercise challenges kids to make a paper tower that can withstand as much wind as possible (from a box fan), without falling over.

“Introducing kids to activities, like the Windy City Tower, and relating it to the engineering field at a young age is important,” said Rachel Boots, Aff.M.ASCE, Section chair for Engineers Week. “An engineer is not easily identifiable walking down the street, so this activity makes engineering relatable.”

Kids design and build towers made out of paper and tape.

Kids design and build towers made out of paper and tape.

The Section also promoted its book, Engineering the Nation’s Capital, which presents stories and images of notable infrastructure in the Washington, DC, area. Entirely volunteer-written, the hardcover coffee-table book hopes to offer a different perspective on engineering.

“We are able to introduce people to the many things that engineers have contributed to their daily lives here in the Washington area,” said L. J. Sauter, senior environmental advisor at Burns and McDonnell. “Engineering is so neat and so needed for our country, so I’m hoping that we can inspire the next generation of civil engineers.”

Continuing outreach beyond Family Day, the Section plans to send local members to visit a school this year and present on an aspect of civil engineering. Each school will also receive their very own copy of Engineering the Nation’s Capital.

AECOM volunteers show attendees how to boil liquid using heat generated from the palm of their hands.

Sumon Chatterjee, P.E., M.ASCE, environmental engineer at AECOM and event volunteer, shows attendees how to boil liquid using heat generated from the palm of their hands.

“Part of our goal at the National Capital Section is our STEM outreach program. It’s very fulfilling to see all of the kids, students, and parents working together,” said Victor Crawford, P.E., M.ASCE, Section Board Director and chair for education. “It helps to show the kids what it’s like being an engineer, and hopefully they’ll pursue it through their classes.”

Leave a Reply

— required *

— required *