Students made paper airplanes to learn about wind dynamics. The activity was hosted by Pi Tau Sigma and Tau Beta Pi. (Photo: Adam Lau / © UC Berkeley College of Engineering)

Meet the future engineers

March 12, 2019 by Linda Vu

About 350 students from across the East Bay descended on the Berkeley campus last weekend for Engineering for Kids (E4K), a one-day science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event for low-income fourth- to sixth-grade students. The annual event is organized and hosted entirely by Berkeley students.

The attendees built graphic circuits to light LEDs, marshmallow catapults and CD hovercrafts to learn about the mechanics of friction and momentum. By providing the young students with exciting and memorable experiences in science and engineering, the EK4 team hopes to inspire a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

“I think back to my elementary school extracurricular STEM activities and they were really fun. Coming to Berkeley I realized how many schools also don’t have hands-on exposure in their classrooms,” said Cara Wolfe ( B.A. Computer Science ‘21), who is leading E4K’s efforts this year. “I saw E4K as an opportunity to give back to the next generation.”

As a follow up, the organizers distribute surveys during the closing ceremony to students and parents, as well as email parents and chaperones after the event to see how the day went.

“Last year, one mom emailed and told us that after attending our event, her son went to the library and checked out a mechanical engineering book and her daughter now wants to be an engineer,” said Wolfe. “Knowing that we inspire these kids to become excited and curious about STEM is one of the reasons I do this, and I know that this is true for many of the organizers as well.”