Engineering Night offers students a hands-on approach

BIG RAPIDS — Area students shared their science skills and engaged in engineering events at the third annual Family Engineering Night and Regional Science Fair, hosted by the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District on Tuesday.

While students from Chippewa Hills, Evart and St. Peter’s schools displayed their science fair projects in one room, across the hall, children and their parents learned about engineering as they completed several projects, which seemed more like games.

“Families in general don’t necessarily know what engineering is,” said Larry Wyn, MOISD math science center director. “There are so many fields of engineering. There’s mechanical, chemical, industrial; we have a traffic engineer here as well. There are so many different fields and we want to expose them to that.

“The reason we pick elementary and middle school kids is because at the middle school point, kids are deciding whether math or science is what they really want to do in high school. If they love it here, they are going to continue to love it. If they hate it here, they probably aren’t going to like it.”

Mechanical engineering students at Ferris State University volunteered to lead the activities, which varied from building an aluminum foil boat to setting up a building using toilet paper rolls and cardboard.

“This teaches them to think about things that they don’t think about on an everyday basis,” said Jennifer Bonner as she watched her son, Justin, grow in his understanding of engineering. “This gets them thinking and using a hands-on approach.”