Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Math and science skills were put into action when Hillpoint Elementary School held the first of two Family Engineering Nights on Tuesday.
The idea behind the first-ever such event, gifted resource teacher Julie Plasencia said, was to “show the parents the importance of teaching engineering concepts to elementary-age children,” and also see how engineering relates to the Standards of Learning.
The event coincided with a regular Hillpoint Elementary Parent-Teacher Association meeting and received about 260 RSVPs, PTA President Tangy Boyd said.
Email newsletter signup
“We are super-excited about the turnout,” she said. “We are co-sponsoring it along with the school. We are teaching our children to be leaders and entrepreneurs. We believe if we can plant it in them at a very young age, it helps them be successful at a very young age.”
The engineering event got under way in the gym with about 20 engineering stations, before the PTA meeting commenced in the cafeteria 45 minutes later.
Plasencia said she purchased the ready-made stations with a grant from the Suffolk Education Foundation.
At one station, Peter Clemow and his son Robert, a fourth-grader, stacked washers onto a length of paper supported by two plastic cups, exploring the principles engineers use to build strength into bridges.
“I think it’s a great idea to reinforce the lessons they are learning in school,” Peter Clemow said of the event.
At another station nearby, Jody Bronaugh said his son Zachary, also in fourth-grade, had asked him to attend. “I think it’s good to expose the kids to the sciences, and something that might trigger something for later in life,” Jody Bronaugh said.
Bronaugh, an electrical engineer, said it was nice that his son was taking an interest “in that kind of stuff.”
At the end of the PTA meeting, parents and students — the event was for third- through fifth-graders — ventured upstairs to classrooms set up with SOL-specific engineering activities. That session lasted another 45 minutes.
“It gives them a chance to see how the information they are being taught in math and science relates to the real world,” Plasencia said. “It also gives them the opportunity to do hands-on activities.”
According to Boyd, switching kids on to engineering as a career field is a no-brainer.
“We don’t have enough engineers in the world,” Boyd said. “It’s high-demand and high-paying.”