Translating Engineering Research to K-8 (TEK8) is a combined research and outreach program involving undergraduate engineering students and middle school students. Every week of this semester, I have been travelling to KIPP Academy Columbus to teach engineering design challenges to students in grades 6-8. I am charged with creating a design challenge that incorporates an area of my research. This task has proven to be quite difficult. My research involved image processing of steel and nickol alloys, so communicating this idea to middle schoolers has beeen very difficult. I’ve had to brainstorm and really simplify my research into its basic components.
Like steel, chocolate is also tempered. So, for my design challenge I had the students create their own un-tempered chocolate by engineering their own tempering process. To test their chocolate, the students would add magnetic weights until it snapped. The strength of their own chocolate would be compared to that of Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. To freeze chocolate, they had four options: ice bath, room temperature bath, dry ice bath, and no bath. The kids really liked working with chocolate, but I learned that 8th graders cannot sit still and wait! They weren’t very patient with the freezing process. In hindsight, I should have incorporated an activity between freezing stages.
This experience has been very eye-opening. KIPP is an underserved school in an impoverished community. For some of these students, they will be the first of their families to attend college. I am honored to introduce these kids to STEM and engineering.
For more information on TEK8: https://engineering.osu.edu/academics/research-outreach-service-tek-8