SHPE mentors students from Leal Elementary School Bilingual Program

02/28/2014

Five members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), three of whom are current or former MechSE students, worked with another Illinois student, Irisbel Sanchez, to engage fifth grade bilingual students at Leal Elementary School in Urbana in engineering and manufacturing.

Renata Revelo Alonso, Ruben Robles, Jesus Sotelo, Alicia Cintora, and Matt Alonso helped the students manufacture bouncy balls made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Working in groups of four or five, and mentored by an SHPE student leader, the students learned how to adjust the ratio of polymer to cross-linker to adjust the firmness of their ball. The mixture was mixed and degassed, then poured into a ping pong ball mold and placed in an oven to cure.

While engaged in the activity, the fifth graders had the opportunity to interact with their SHPE mentors. Many of them asked questions about college life, what drew the engineering students to choose their major, and what they plan to do when they graduate. This close interaction with engineering students allowed many of the elementary students to learn more about possible careers in engineering.

MechSE student Jesus Sotelo helps the fifth-graders measure PDMS for their bouncy balls.
MechSE student Jesus Sotelo helps the fifth-graders measure PDMS for their bouncy balls.

Renata Revelo Alonso supervises as the students measure their cross-linker.
Renata Revelo Alonso supervises as the students measure their cross-linker.

MechSE alumnus Matt Alonso and the students make their ping pong ball mold.
MechSE alumnus Matt Alonso and the students make their ping pong ball mold.

The fifth-graders discuss engineering careers while their PDMS is de-gassing.
The fifth-graders discuss engineering careers while their PDMS is de-gassing.