A group of Drexel Engineering students hosted an Open Lab Day for over 150 middle and high school students on April 23. The half-day event had one goal, to inspire middle and high school students to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Open Lab Day offered the students the chance to explore different engineering disciplines through a series of hands-on labs. Each student completed a series of five different engineering activities focused on mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, civil engineering and electrical engineering. Each lab was designed and led by undergraduate engineering students.
With each new exercise, the middle and high school students explored a different aspect of engineer. The students worked with engineers from the Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics Department to create a mechanism that could accurately drop a marble from a moving cup to hit a floor-mounted target. The students also created elephant toothpaste with the help of chemical and biological engineers. Civil engineers worked with the middle and high school students to explore the properties of concrete by testing concrete cubes.
Students from the Materials Science Department created slime, a hydrophilic hydro gel, snow and offered the middle and high school students a sample of liquid nitrogen ice cream. Finally, Electrical and computer engineers explained the power of solar energy from the sun and demonstrated Drexel’s solar car.
A study by the National Science Foundation indicates that middle and high school students lack proficiency in math and science. The hope is that events like this will inspire K-12 students to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and promote the inclusion of women and under-represented minorities in engineering.
The Drexel Engineering students received an $1800 Diversity Action Grant from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to fund Open Lab Day. They hope to hold similar events in the future.