April, 2000

Engineering a Bright Future
Through Fun and Learning

By Tracy Sopkow

National Engineering Week (March 4-11) was an opportunity for Alberta’s engineers, geologists and geophysicists to take their work out of their offices and into their communities in order to increase awareness and appreciation of the engineering and geoscience professions. Various activities sponsored by APEGGA and corporate supporters around the province were aimed at sparking an interest among today’s youth in engineering, math and science, and illustrating the pervasive role engineers and geoscientists play in our daily lives.

The festivities began in Grande Prairie as more than 500 students, staff and families of Aspen Grove School and Avondale School were treated to two fantastic nights of science. Local engineers and geoscientists, along with students from the college were on hand March 6 and 9 to interact with families and explain the many wonders of science that make things possible in everyday life through hands-on activities and demonstrations. Comments received to date indicate that all in attendance had a super time!

In Calgary, National Engineering Week corporate supporter Fluor Daniel Canada, Inc. organized a series of events for its employees and students. In a test of experience versus youth, Fluor employees met head-to-head with teams of students from Central Memorial High School in Calgary in a test of skill. On March 9, Fluor hosted an Engineers’ Luncheon at Carriage House Inn. Fluor engineers were invited to hear special guest speaker Ian Hutcheon, P.Geol., PhD, from the University of Calgary, speak on the topic of global warming and how current issues are related to this year’s National Engineering week theme — Anything’s Possible!

To end the week, nearly 800 students in Grades 1-12 gathered in rooms in Edmonton, Brooks and Fort McMurray to compete in Science Olympics on Saturday, March 11. The event was an opportunity for students to experience the challenge of competing against the clock and their peers, using ingenuity and problem-solving skills to construct projects in advance and solve mystery events revealed at the competition.

Competing as teams, students were asked to solve problems that dealt with both the pure and applied sciences. Participating teams assembled models of DNA coding; identified bones extracted from owl pellets; built the strongest paper chair; designed apparatus capable of lighting a match by using a steel ball; and manufactured catapults, clocks and pasta towers. Students were acknowledged for their efforts with medals, certificates and trophies, but true satisfaction for competitors came from trying their best and having a great time.

Throughout the week, students and educators across the province were invited to compete against one another in a provincial challenge sponsored by APEGGA. The challenge is designed to get students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 to consider and apply engineering principles in a hands-on activity. Using limited materials, elementary teams across the province worked to build balloon-powered vehicles, while junior and senior high students tested their knowledge of structures, designing Popsicle stick pillars capable of holding the most weight.

Volunteers from the APEGGA branches were on hand at various schools to judge the designs and offer advice and encouragement. Response across the province has been phenomenal, making it clear that the engineers of tomorrow are alive and well in Alberta classrooms.

A big thank you to all the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, participants and spectators for making the first National Engineering Week of the new millennium such a huge success.

For results click here.





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