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WVU Tech students and faculty celebrate National Engineers Week and STEM learning

WVU Tech students work with youngsters at the Clay Center

February 18-24 was National Engineers Week, and dozens of Golden Bears celebrated by engaging K-12 students throughout the state.

On Saturday, February 25, more than 40 students and faculty attended Discover Engineering Day at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia. The annual event draws in young students and families, and set an attendance record of more than 1,100 this year.

Volunteers from the Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME) showed youngsters how to create bracelets and keychains with their names spelled out in binary and hexadecimal code. The group also used marshmallows Peeps to demonstrate what happens in the vacuum of space without a spacesuit.

WVU Tech students teach tie-dye science at the Clay Center

The biology program brought their famous hissing cockroaches, plus and electrocardiogram (EKG) machine to show students how the electrical impulses of the heart are monitored. The WVU Tech Association for Computing Machinery brought along arcade games and a robot that visitors could pilot with a balance board. Chemical engineering students worked on chromatography while students from electrical engineering shocked visitors with their electromagnetism and static demonstrations. The student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers showcased the popular Baja racing vehicle and Aero Design team students helped attendees create paper airplanes.

For junior chemical engineering student Ashlynn Teator, the event was the perfect way to give back. She spent the day showing students the science behind tie-dye and how that science is applied in various fields. The California native said that her own path was directed by events just like Discover Engineering Day.

WVU Tech students teach static science to K-12 kids at Discover Engineering Day

"When I was younger, I was lucky to be involved in a lot of different science programs for youth and I think it really helped me decide to go into a science field. It really impacted me as a young person just to see what was out there. I really hope that doing this will help kids see exactly what they can do," she said.

An hour east in Beckley, seven WVU Tech faculty members served as guest judges for a science fair hosted at Woodrow Wilson High School. Judges heard from elementary, middle and high schools students as they reviewed projects in a variety of STEM fields. They also connected with local teachers on the potential for in-class demonstrations in the area during the school year.

Earlier in the week, WVU Tech representatives also visited Holz Elementary School in Charleston for a day of coding.

Stephany Coffman-Wolph, assistant professor of computer science and information system at WVU Tech, said the events are all part of the university’s efforts to spread learning beyond campus.

"I think it's very important that we reach out to the community to expose them to the STEM fields. I think it's great to let kids know that these fields are out there and that they can do it – and that this is the kind of fun stuff we get to do every day at our jobs,” she said.

Check photos from the Clay Center event on Flickr.