Elementary Students’ Interest in Engineering Takes Flight

Engineers Week activities at Vista Square Elementary bring engineering to life

Vista Square Elementary students tossed a barrage of handmade airplanes in the direction of Principal Anateresa Herrera-Wood. And not a single student got in trouble. In fact, she complimented the students on their success.

The aerial display was among Engineers Week activities that culminated with students building their own airplanes and competing to see which “flew” the greatest distance when thrown down a “runway” where Herrera-Wood stood at the end.

Engineers Week celebrates how engineers make a difference in the world, increases public dialogue about the need for engineers, and brings engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents. The Chula Vista Charitable Foundation (CVCF) joined 100 students from the South Bay Family YMCA ASES (After School Education and Safety) program, and employees of UTC Aerospace Systems for the February 20 event at Vista Square.

“The main point of today’s event was to expand the students’ perceptions of the possibilities that are out there for them,” Herrera-Wood said. “Mechanical engineers began their careers putting things together, building things at home when they were kids. Our students today captured that sense of curiosity, building, creating, and experimenting. They had a blast. We are grateful to our neighbor UTC Aerospace Systems, our newest partner in education, and to our fabulous South Bay Family YMCA for today’s event.”

Engineering has become “the” degree to have, given the increase of “baby boomers” who will be retiring in the next five years. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, the number of jobs for engineers is estimated to grow in the 15 to 20 percent range over the next 10 years.Learning Station 4

“Education is the key. It is up to us to be the catalyst for change. Our engineers are excited to work with the YMCA youth to provide that educational opportunity that they need and deserve,” said Colin Cramp, Vice President of Engineering & Technology, UTC Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures.

UTC Aerospace Systems is one of the largest employers in Chula Vista. The company’s engineers and staff provided students with learning stations to teach students about various engineering fields, airplanes and the equipment needed to build operable airplanes.

“What I enjoyed about today’s activities was getting to build airplanes,” said Jasmine Matthews, third grade student. “What I learned about engineers is that they are different than scientists. I want to be a scientist and an engineer one day.”

Makayla Trevino, a fourth grade student, said she learned about the different types of engineers there are in the world, and the kinds of projects they work on. “I was most interested in the mechanical engineers because they build different things like jets and engines. …I want to become a mechanical engineer,” she said.

That is the point, said her principal, as she dodged a few wayward planes. “We are looking forward to the possibility that through these inquiry based activities, we will inspire more women to enter this field,” Herrera-Wood said. “All students gained a better understanding of how things work.”

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