The team at Top Level Engineering (TLE) visited two fourth-grade classes at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn, Virginia February 25 in honor of Engineers Week (EWeek). Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers, EWeek is a week-long celebration of how engineers make a difference in our world and an effort to raise awareness of the engineering profession. This year, Discover Engineers Week was February 20-26, including Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day on February 24, followed by World Engineering Day March 4.
Using several demonstrations, the TLE team showed students how their jobs as structural engineers tie into the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum at Cedar Lane, and how they use all four parts to do their jobs. For science, they use physics and loading from external elements such as wind, as well as the scientific method. Under
technology, they employ computers and design software. With engineering, they study principles such as loading and how materials react. Finally, they utilize math in combination with the other topics to predict what will happen.
“We want to try to shape some young minds and drive home how important STEM is today,” said Kirby Hartle, TLE Principal. “People often wonder if we even need to study math anymore, and while it may be true that not everyone needs to understand calculus, general math is important to things we all do every day.”
Victoria O’Bruba, a fourth-grade teacher at Cedar Lane, said that having the TLE team visit her classroom provided her students with a real-world connection to the content they’re expected to learn.
“In class, we complete STEM activities and practice the scientific method, so showcasing people whose professions utilize these skills allows students to understand how the material taught can be applied beyond an in-school setting – and hopefully for some, sparking interest in and pursuing a career in the STEM field,” she said.
Kirby added that planting an interest in science and math at a young age is extremely important, and that once kids learn how STEM affects things that surround them every day, they get a new perspective.
“We want to show students that there are levels of science and math for everyone, and you don’t have to get into extremely high levels to enjoy learning about how STEM applies to everyone,” he said.