Elementary-Engineering-WeekWhat do a catapult, skyscraper and a fish have in common? They are the basis of three fun and educational engineering activities that make up this year’s Elementary Engineering Week at the University of Utah.

The event, organized by the U’s College of Engineering and sponsored by Phillips 66, takes place March 23–27 at the University of Utah’s A. Ray Olpin Student Union Building ballroom, 200 S. Central Campus Drive, Salt Lake City. Each day runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Nearly 2,000 elementary school students (grades 5 and 6) from along the Wasatch Front will participate in the event. Each day, a group of 400 students will form teams to build motorized fish from modeling clay and skyscrapers out of straws and paper clips that must withstand a blast of wind. They also will shoot marshmallows from wooden catapults they constructed at school. The kids also will meet with members of the U’s engineering departments to learn more about each engineering discipline.

“It’s going to be a fun, exciting and engaging day for these kids, and they’ll come away learning a lot about what makes our world tick,” said Ashley Nicholes, the academic program coordinator for the U’s College of Engineering and organizer of the event.

Teachers also will benefit from the annual Elementary Engineering Week. Those schools that participate will receive money donated by Phillips 66 to help advance math and science in the classroom. The purpose of the week is to introduce engineering principles to kids and enhance their understanding of how science and technology work. Engineering Week is just part of a yearlong effort by the U to familiarize elementary students with engineering.

Outreach advisors also visit classrooms year-round to conduct engineering activities with students. Teachers also can receive activity kits and lesson plans from the college for making programmable robots, wind turbines and more.