The 2013 theme of “Cultivating Curiosity” was prevalent in the Energy, Science & Tech exhibit of this year’s EcoFest.
The exhibit included booths that introduced young children to engineering, physics and mathematics principles through interactive experiments.
Engineering for Kids, a program that offers engineering workshops to children ages 4 to 14, had three activities set up to introduce children to three types of engineering: civil engineering, robotics engineering and aerospace engineering.
Husband and wife co-owners Jay and Sandra Swindle opened Engineering for Kids at 805 Monroe St. Suite 106 last month to introduce more children to engineering technology.
The curriculum used in the workshops is certified by STEM and is meant to introduce kids to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The Swindles brought gumdrops and toothpicks for children to design and build bridges. They could then test their bridge with a can filled with coins.
“We try to do simple things that can teach them about civil engineering,” Sandra said. “It’s really about building and testing, looking at everyone’s design and deciding whose worked the best.”
The children are able to learn by trial and error, and test different variables such as weight dispersion and design principles.
The Swindles also had their LEGO robotics on display. The robots were attached by a string and the children could press a button to activate the robots to advance in opposite directions creating a tug of war.
This experiment was meant to demonstrate the center of gravity, Sandra said.
The third interactive activity the Swindles brought to EcoFest was a rocket launcher, an example of aerospace engineering.
“The better they design the rocket,” she said, “the farther it will fly.”
Engineering for Kids hosts after-school programing, evening classes, camps and birthday parties.
Sandra said if advanced math and science skills are instilled in children at an early age, they will have a head start when those subjects are introduced in school.
Dylan Rogers, a flex time educator for the Museum of Discovery in downtown Little Rock, performs experiments in the Tinkering Studio open each afternoon at the museum.
He set up an obstacle course using PC pipes where children had to maneuver a ping pong ball through suspended hoops using a blowdryer.
This experiment demonstrated Bernoulli’s principle, which occurs when fast moving fluids have more pressure, Rogers explained.
“When you see mathematical concepts in a physical situation it makes it more interesting,” he said.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)