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Engineering ambassadors ignite STEM interest at BCHS

Filed in Archive by on November 5, 2015
Students examine light.

RPI student Dan Reed leads helps students examine spectrum of light using LED, fluorescent, and incandescent lights.

It was Career Day and college visit rolled into one when 13 student ambassadors from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute visited 27 science classes at Bethlehem Central High School on Wednesday, November 4. Known as the RPI Engineering Ambassadors, the group travels to local high schools to help students learn more about what it’s like to study various engineering disciplines and to engage students with hands-on learning involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Students in lab experiment.

RPI ambassadors Grace Hermann and Jeffrey Morton help students with their water filtration designs.

With guidance from these ambassadors, more than 650 BC students became imagineers, designing roller coasters; car manufacturers seeking to minimize drag force and maximize fuel efficiency; and problem solvers creating water filtration systems and implementing humanitarian aid missions.

View photo highlights on the district’s Facebook page.

The November 4 STEM visit included the following presentations:  

  • Engineering Life – Water Filtration: Students learned about Earth’s natural filtering process, the water cycle, and how a similar process has been engineered to filter our water. In teams, students created their own gravity filters and tested them.
  • Humanitarian Logistics: The presenters spoke about how engineering can be useful in the field of Humanitarian Logistics after natural or manmade disasters and described common misconceptions people have of what to donate to survivors. Students simulated a donation drive in a hands-on activity.
  • Future of Light: The ambassadors described applications of digital lighting including communications and large scale applications of LED lighting systems. Students examined spectra of light of incandescent, LED and fluorescent lighting.
  • Structures: This presentation explored architecture through an engineering perspective including a history of structures, fundamental engineering concepts, and a structural analysis of modern buildings.
  • Imagineering the Future: Students learned the basics of potential and kinetic energy applications involved with roller coaster design including centripetal forces involved that allow for twists and turns and the friction needed for sudden stops. In teams, students competed to design and build the best roller coaster.
  • Drag Force: The presenters focused on the drag force equation and helped students use their algebra skills to find the drag coefficient of model cars. Working in teams, the students tested their equations and vehicles in a portable wind tunnel.

Joining the RPI ambassadors in their visit to the high school was 2010 BCHS graduate Jeffrey Morton, who was a founding member of the student ambassador program at RPI. He graduated from Rensselaer in December 2014 with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

The RPI ambassadors were generous in sharing their time and knowledge with our students, and stuck around after school to answer questions and talk to students about their majors and college life in general.

Thank you, RPI Engineering Ambassadors!

Learn more about the RPI Engineering Ambassadors.