NRHEG students become engineers for a day
Summer school students in grades K-6 at the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale- Geneva (NRHEG) Elementary School became engineers for the day, thanks to the Works Museum.
The Works Museum of Bloomington, is a hands-on engineering and design museum for kids and their grown-ups. The Works makes engineering fun for kids with hands-on activities, real tools and everyday materials.
Riley Leonard brought the Works Museum on wheels to the NRHEG Elementary School in Ellendale on July 15.
Two workshops were presented. One was a Circuit Explore Workshop for those kids in grades K-3. The other workshop was about building a motor power object.
The K-3 student group heard Leonard tell about the engineering museum for kids. "What is engineering? Leonard asked the younger kids. "They build electronic things," responded Isaac Carnuggio, a third grader.
"Engineers solve problems," volunteered one of the three teachers with the first group. Teachers helping with the engineering projects were Kaie Knudson, Bev Krause Park and Kari Buendorf.
Each student was given a AA-battery, a button battery and a Christmas light to explain what an electrical circuit is. The students were then given two plastic cups to complete the circuit project.
"We're going to be electrical engineers today," Leonard told the excited students.
"You're going to learn some pretty cool stuff," said instructor Leonard. Fourth grader Kendrick Spies was the only one of both groups to have visited the Works Museum. "I learned a lot there and hope to learn more today," Kendrick said.
With the equipment given to each student, it was their challenge to light up the spider-looking creature.
"Wires make the light shine," said one of the students. Mason Pederson.
"What is a circuit?" Leonard asked his pupils. They then learned about "conductors" and "insulators."
"Where does electricity come from?" "Power lines," Carnuggio quickly replied.
The students were asked what was different when each battery was used separately. "The one was brighter than the other," answered Pederson.
The group also experimented with LED lighting. “Mr. Riley, I'm not even holding the wire and it lights up," offered Carnuggio.
Following a successful session of lighting up their bulbs, cleanup was next on the docket. That's when the kids became the noisiest. "They really wanted to learn more about being an engineer," said Leonard.
"I learned that circuits are really fun," said Carnuggio.
The next session for those in grades 4-6 followed a similar path but their project is more complex.
Leonard distributed small motors to all class members and helped them assemble a motor-driven item called a "jiggle bot." Students had a chance to design their own small robots using pipe cleaners, eyes, foam, straws, markers, popsicle sticks, etc.
The older group was more demonstrative than the younger kids. "It vibrates and rotates," Josh Houle said in describing the outcome of his motor project.
Twins Bailey and Brenna Dalbec proved they could work together in making their motor run.
The students and their teacher even named their jiggle bots. Kendrick named his "Speedy." Fourth grade teacher Samantha Klukow named her robot, "Wackadoodle."
"It's very rewarding to see these young kids learn more about becoming an engineer," remarked Leonard.
Leonard earned a degree in biology from St. John's University in St. Cloud. He plans to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa, majoring in cell and developmental biology.
On this particular morning of summer school, the NRHEG kids did what Leonard's van was stenciled: "The Works, where kids explore how things work."
Go to wwwtheworks.org for additional information.