MechSE Student works with 4th grade class

MechSE student Nathan Dostart has started a unique program at Stratton Elementary school in Champaign, Illinois. He is visiting Zanne Newman’s 4th grade class once a week over the next several weeks exposing her students to different types of engineering in the hopes to spark some excitement in the students and so they can start to see the wide variety of problems that different engineers try to solve.

Nathan said that he is glad he is getting a chance to work with the kids and it's nice to see that they are getting exposed to some engineering at an early age. Nathan went on to say that when he was in elementary school he never felt that he had exposure to engineering and he would like to think that his activity nudged at least one of the children in the class towards pursuing STEM fields as they grow older.

Based on the student’s responses, that is very likely. Zanne Newman, the 4th grade teacher at Stratton reported that after Nathan’s visit teaching some mechanical engineering principles as the students created a launcher that “our cotton balls are still flying. The kids have been tinkering with them all day to get them to work better!”

Nathan feels it has not been just the 4th grade students who have benefitted. Nathan said “It was very refreshing to work with young students. College level engineering is a lot of hard work, and it can be easy to lose sight of why I decided to be an engineer in the first place when slogging through unending piles of homework. Seeing the kids get really excited about trying to create a good design, testing it out, and improving it was a nice reminder of what motivated me to become an engineer in the first place.”

Nathan working with three Stratton students
Nathan working with three Stratton students

Nathan listening to some Stratton students describe their design decisions.
Nathan listening to some Stratton students describe their design decisions.