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Kids get excited about science and math at Engineering Extravaganza Junior event

At the Engineering Extravaganza Junior event Saturday morning, students in the USU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers guided local elementary school students in activities that demonstrate real-world applications of engineering. Shannon Hafen is a junior at USU studying mechanical engineering and a member of SWE. She said this is one of their biggest outreach events.

“So we’re just trying to get children interested in STEM, and give them an opportunity to find a reason to join engineering or STEM, just like all of us had when we were younger,” Hafen said.

Almost sixty 3rd through 5th graders and their parents attended the event. In one room, students used popsicle sticks to build a trebuchet (a type of catapult). The second room gave students wires, playdough, and LED lights to build a functional circuit. The third activity got students thinking about the challenges of clearing a clogged artery. The last room taught students about environmental engineering in the context of cleaning up an oil spill.

In the clogged artery activity, students were given a plastic tube clogged with playdough along with popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, clips, and balloons as tools. They experimented with different ideas and carefully modeled their materials, noting the pros and cons of different techniques.

Daniella Rivera, Vice President of Outreach for the USU chapter of the SWE, said one of the goals of the event is to encourage young girls to stay interested in science and math and get excited about careers in STEM fields.

“I think they just don’t know that engineering is a career that they can go into at such a young age. And like, opening up that idea to them I think will definitely get more people involved, and it’s specifically women, which is why we not only do this event but other outreach events in our community,” Rivera said.


Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.