Celebrate Engineers Week and inspire wonder in youth

SDSU Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — Encourage your youth to explore and inspire wonder through activities during Engineers Week, Feb. 18-24.

“Take advantage of this week’s focus on engineering and use it as an opportunity to inspire wonder in our youth,” said Christine Wood, SDSU Extension 4-H science technology engineering and math (STEM) field specialist. “Our world is ever- evolving as new technologies and processes are developed to resolve issues and simplify tasks.”

These new developments and inventions are often credited to engineers, but what is an engineer?

“Answering this question is a great place to begin with younger children,” Wood explained.

By pure definition an engineer is ‘the maker of an engine.’ The word engine comes from the Latin word ingenium meaning ‘clever invention.’ Thus an engineer is the maker of a clever invention.

“While there are numerous types of engineers, they all creatively apply what they know about mathematics, science, and technology to develop new ideas, processes, and products,” she said. “Additionally, they utilize critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and teamwork in the process.”

While young children may not be able to wrap their minds around all of the scientific and technical knowledge needed to pursue a career as an engineer, Wood said it is never too early to introduce them to engineering concepts and practices.

“Children have an innate sense of wonder making them natural engineers,” Wood said. “As parents and educators, we can nurture this awe and curiosity to fuel learning through investigation and design. By providing youth opportunities to explore engineering, we enhance their creativity and boost their confidence.”

Engineer activities to boost creativity

Through engineering activities, Wood said we have the opportunity to develop a variety of soft skills that are used in engineering as well as a variety of other fields.

“Engineering activities foster problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills,” Wood said.

Short on ideas for activities?

Wood lists the following websites for ideas:

• Connect2Engineering: www.connect2engineering.org

• Design and Discovery: www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/k12/design-and-discovery.html

• Design Squad Nation: pbskids.org/designsquad

• Discover e: www.discovere.org/our-activities

• Engineering is Elementary: www.eie.org

• Engineer Your Life: www.engineeryourlife.org

• TechXcite: techxcite.pratt.duke.edu

To learn more about Engineers Week, visit the go to Discover e website. www.discovere.org/our-programs/engineers-week.

Youth complete a Junk Drawer Engineering Challenge during the Central State’s Fair. The challenge, Stay on Target, was part of the 2016 State Robotics Challenge. Their mission was to design a method of delivering a torpedo through a narrow trench to disable the Death Star. iGrow photo