LAWRENCE — More than 2,000 elementary and middle school students are expected at the University of Kansas School of Engineering complex later this month for Engineering Expo, a two-day event designed to allow young minds to explore STEM disciplines.
“The event is focused on inspiring K-8 students,” said Cameron Kroonenberg, an aerospace engineering sophomore from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, who serves as Expo’s finance chair. “It gets them excited and intrigued on the topic, hopefully encourages them to choose a STEM topic to major in."
This year’s event will follow a slightly different schedule than previous editions, which usually brought students to campus a Friday and Saturday in late winter. The 2019 Expo is scheduled Feb. 24-25, a Sunday and Monday. Kroonenberg said the change was made to accommodate the schedules of regional schools that bring students to participate; the Sunday date is intended for the general public, while Monday is primarily open to the K-8 students.
Expo offers seven competitions, including efforts to:
- Build a volcano using a combination of baking soda, vinegar, water and soap. Students will be evaluated and awarded on three different aspects of their volcano: an informational poster board, volcano design and the eruption results.
- Create paper rockets that will be flown and powered using compressed air.
- Make a “Rube Goldberg” machine that serves the students’ home cities.
The event is run by KU engineering students.
“It is nice to be able to give back to the community,” Kroonenberg said. “We were all that age once, too, and something clicked inside of us at one point or another where we wanted to be engineers for the rest of our lives.”
“It would mean the world to us Expo chairs if we knew that any number of those 2,000 students chose to pursue a STEM major because they fell in love with science during a field trip to KU,” he said.
Sunday will also feature an Engineering and Science Fair sponsored by the KU chapter of the Theta Tau engineering fraternity. Unlike Expo, where K-8 students are given projects to complete, the science fair asks elementary and middle school students to bring and present their own, self-directed research projects. “This science fair is about having fun and encouraging students to share what they find fascinating about science and engineering,” the fraternity said. Prizes will be given to up to three of the most exceptional presentations.
For more information and to sign up for either the expo or the science fair, go to http://engr.ku.edu/engineering-expo.