About 350 students from across the East Bay descended on the Berkeley campus in March 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 E4K team hopes to inspire a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. 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.
For Cara Wolfe, a computer science undergraduate student who is leading E4K’s efforts this year, some of her favorite moments are when parents call or write notes to the E4K organizers to tell them how this event sparked an engineering curiosity in their child. “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 now wants to be an engineer,” she said. “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.”