Field Trip Generates Thoughts of What to Be When They Grow Up

What does a day in the life of an engineering student look like at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU?  First-, second-, and third-grade students from Cuyahoga Heights Elementary School (CHES) glimpsed into their lives while touring the renowned CWRU Sears [thinkbox] and participating in a STEM activity.

Housed in a seven-story, 50,000-square-foot facility at CWRU, the Sears think[box] is a world-class innovation center and makerspace. The “tinkerer’s playground” brings together resources for students to make things for research, academics, competition, and business. Students can create prototypes, fabricate equipment, brainstorm ideas, and pursue legal and business support and guidance to create market-ready products with real-world impact.

For this field trip, all three CHES grades were split in half. Half of the grades set to work on a STEM activity building either a 'lifesaver" car or a giant 3D-printed tetrahedron. “Surrounded by offices with engineering students at work, or having CAD (Computer Aided Design) instruction in the CAD studio, our students were able to sit and build at the high-top tables or on couches with pillows in the shape of pyramids – all while immersed in the engineering atmosphere.” said Barbara Currey, CHES elementary science specialist who coordinated the field trip.

Meanwhile, the other half of the grades saw the Sears [thinkbox] equipment in action (such as table-sized 3D printers), watched engineering teams work on their projects, and heard the team captains explain their work. They visited the Baja Car Bay where older versions of Baja cars were on display along with a 2023 model that was being prepared for competition. They also toured the Rocket Club Bay where rockets that had been launched nearly a mile in the sky were on display. 

The field trip opened the students’ eyes to engineering as a career opportunity. “They commented that they wanted to grow up and go to CWRU to study to be engineers,” commented a satisfied Currey.