Engineers in Training at Caledonia Park School

Engineers in Training at Caledonia Park School

DIALOGers enjoyed a recent visit to the grade 4 classroom at Caledonia Park School to share what engineers do and help them build mini sustainable houses.

The classroom teacher, Mrs. Arends, received an APEGA education grant to provide an opportunity to develop and advance STEM-focused experiential programs in her classroom. As part of this initiative, she invited Diana Smith (mechanical engineer) and Josh Bornia (electrical EIT) to share their experience designing sustainable buildings. They discussed sources of energy, energy use in buildings, and strategies used to reduce energy consumption. The students brainstormed ways they could reduce the energy use in their own lives. One student suggested that his sister should take shorter showers (and he tells her this allll the time!). Good idea!

The students formed teams to design a high-performance building envelope that would keep snow frozen inside the classroom. The project that kept the snow frozen the longest won the competition. Their design had to meet the following requirements:

  • A door that was large enough to fit Mrs. Arends hand through (to place the snow).
  • Three windows (to see if the snow has melted).
  • Use of the available materials including cardboard boxes, pipe insulation, spray foam, tin foil, Styrofoam, duct tape, etc.

During design and construction, Josh and Diana acted as the technical advisors to the group. As they put it, “fortunately, due to having zero occupancy, fewer codes and standards were required and stamped drawings were not provided. All joking aside, it was an inspiring experience and so fun to see the creative ways the kids approached the problem.”

Students had some wonderful things to say about their learning experience:

  • “I have learned that engineers are problem solvers. Also, they knew a LOT about solar energy”
  • “I think I had a lot of information (the design process) and when we made houses, I think that I did good at insulating the inside.”
  • “One thing that I learned about engineering is that they are like the architect who puts everything together.”
  • “I have learned that when you’re an engineer you have to be very patient when building a structure.”
  • “You need to be strong and be tough and need to pack up small spaces so no cold air gets in the house.”

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