Inspire the Next Generation of Engineers
(Family Features) Did you ever have a favorite teacher that made a subject come alive, or inspired you to pursue a certain career path? DiscoverE, an organization that celebrates today’s engineers and works to inspire the next generation of innovators, created the DiscoverE Educator Awards to honor the special individuals who have gone to great lengths to inspire students to pursue a career in engineering.
This year’s DiscoverE Educator Award recipients show how you can use their creative and effective strategies to engage your students or children in engineering.
Teacher Leon Grant III of Marietta, Georgia, regularly invites engineering professionals to his classroom for “Lunch with an Engineer.” He’s seen how meeting a real engineer helps students build a deeper understanding of the field and can ignite a student’s interest. He’s also found that engineers are eager to visit and talk to his students about their projects and how they are changing the world for the better. To replicate his program, Grant suggests beginning with a quick Google search for local engineering companies, professional societies and colleges or universities with engineering departments. This simple research can reveal a list of organizations to contact and ask if they'd be willing to participate.
Daisy Rayela, a middle school teacher in Lanham, Maryland, found that engaging her students in creative, hands-on engineering activities helps demonstrate how engineering is all about creativity, problem-solving and fun. Rayela's program offers students hands-on projects and activities related to design and modeling, automation and robotics, energy and the environment. She even organizes “family night” activities that not only pique the students' interest in science and engineering careers, but also raise awareness among their parents. One way that others can follow Rayela's example and engage their students with hands-on activities is by visiting the activities section of the DiscoverE website (http://www.DiscoverE.org/our-activities). There, you can find hundreds of exciting and fun activities to challenge and inspire students including experiment ideas, field trip suggestions, interactive games and more.
Jill Johnson – who worked as a mechanical engineer before becoming a high school teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota – found herself discouraged by the lack of diversity in the engineering field. “I believe the engineering profession will be better for all people when it includes perspectives from different populations,” she said. As a female engineer, Johnson demonstrates firsthand that gender and race are not obstacles when pursing a profession in engineering, and that introducing students to engineering opens up a whole new world of possibilities for their future.
To share the wide world of engineering with your students or kids use the 45-minute guided workshop called “Inspire Innovation,” which is an effective way to introduce high school kids to the wide variety of engineering careers and opportunities.
Visit DiscoverE.org for more resources, activities, videos and workshops to help young people develop an interest in engineering.