On Tuesday 26th November I did a presentation at my primary school, Orange Grove Public School in Leichhardt. My presentation was about maths, science and engineering to around 60 students aged between eight and ten years old.
I arranged the visit after reading the President’s Column ‘The Key to the Future’ by John Nichols in the July 2013 E.A. Sydney Division newsletter. The article drew attention to the alarmingly low rate of high school students taking up maths and science. After reading the article, it dawned on me that my focus in the past has been a little unbalanced. I have previously spoken at high school students to promote how ‘cool’ engineering is, and I now feel more focus should be placed on primary school students who can be influenced to stay on the path of maths and science based subjects.
The turn out and attention span of this group was phenomenal. I spoke to the children for 20 minutes about how maths and science is used to design, create and build structures, machines, devices, materials, systems and processes that they use day to day. The students were enthusiastic and clever when answering questions regarding what they thought engineering was and what an engineer did.
Question time went for 40 minutes and it was very rewarding to be asked extremely relevant questions such as ‘how is maths used to build a bridge?’, ‘what type of engineer are you?’, ‘what does a civil engineer do?’, ‘do you have to go to university to become an engineer?’, ‘how do you stop concrete from running down a hill when you are building a road?‘, and my favourite, ‘do you need to go to university to be a pop star?’; well the last question was not so relevant to my talk but you cannot win them all!
Both the boys and girls within the class were very engaged and showed a great interest in the content of the presentation. The students took home the advice that they have ten more years before they are to finish high school to develop their skills in maths and science so that it is not as daunting in the years to come. At the end of the talk they were all very excited to get some E.A. Sydney Division erasers that will hopefully remind them to pursue maths and science in the years ahead.
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