Engineering Expo, Mini Maker Faire Showcase Wonders of STEM

Monday, February 27, 2017

LAWRENCE  — As many as 1,000 elementary and middle school students are expected at the University of Kansas campus next month for Engineering Expo, an event designed to allow young minds to explore STEM disciplines.

"It's a cool way for students to be introduced to science and experiments and engineering in general,” said Katherine Riedel, an Overland Park sophomore helping coordinate the March 10-11 event.

Events will include interactive activities, demonstrations and competitions — young students will team up to build downhill car racers, lightweight “spacecraft” that will allow an egg to survive a fall from a great height, a glider capable of carrying a payload of 15 marbles as well as skyscrapers, sling shots and more.

Expo events this year are focused primarily on younger students, which lets organizers concentrate their efforts on age-appropriate activities for each group.

"It's a fun way for them to be introduced to science,” Riedel said of Expo, “especially for students who never thought it was something they could get interested in."

Mini Maker Faire

The second day will feature the Mini Maker Faire, an event designed to challenge young students to “design, build and create.” Students will be asked to bring, display and give a short presentation — kind of like “Shark Tank” — about an invention of their own making.

"It's another way to get elementary students working on hands-on projects,” said Robby Cowdrey, an Overland Park computer engineering major who is organizing the competition. "This is something they can do on their own time, with their own creativity, to share with fellow students."

Students in second and third grades will be asked to develop a simple solution a common problem; third- and fourth-graders will be asked to create an original invention. Both groups can also choose to create modifications that improve existing devices. Middle school students will be challenged only to create an original invention. Prizes include LEGO sets and do-it-yourself computer kits.

The goal? Give young students a first chance to get hands-on experience with engineering and science principles.

"It's one thing to learn about something in the classroom — even in second or third or fourth grade — but another to actually build something,” Cowdrey said.

All activities will take place at the School of Engineering on KU campus. Find out more about Expo and register to attend.  

Learn more about the Mini Maker Faire and register.

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