Every year in the Spring semester the Rossin Junior Fellows put together a three hour demo of the kind of thinking and jobs that engineers have. It’s a way for Lehigh engineers to try and inspire the kids in the surrounding area to pursue engineering, so every year the eighth graders at Broughal come to Packard Auditorium for pizza and some critical thinking. It’s a fun form of community service.
One of the activities was building a rollercoaster sized for a marble. The materials were foam tubing insulation sliced in half and tape. We watched a short clip on the physics behind rollercoasters, and the kids cheered when they imagined some day working for Disney. The intention of the activity was to show that although an engineers job may be very technical, it’s also cool.
The point of the day is all about the kids so it was fun to see what they created. My team of four was all about making the marble do a complete loop. As the ten minute mark came our team realized we had the same design as every other team and wanted to switch it up.
I stepped in and suggested wrapping the the insulation around the columns of Packard Auditorium. After the event finished a friend commented that I had more fun than the kids did, which was likely.