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Engineering Mythbusters Brings Engineering Principles To Kids

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Topics in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.515.1 - 13.515.6



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Paper Authors

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Melanie Ford Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering MythBusters Brings Engineering Principles to Kids


Penn State Erie, The Behrend College hosts a summer program called College for Kids. It is a series of week long courses for kids, ages 6 to 18, which are 15 hours in length. Over 80 courses are offered in a variety of topics ranging from art, music and writing, to sports, crafts and theater. There has been a demand for engineering offerings from both parents and the director of the program.

“Engineering MythBusters” is a class that draws inspiration from the popular Discovery Channel television show MythBusters. The MythBusters examine scientific principle through the examination of myths, to either confirm or disprove them. This class introduces a variety of engineering fields to children ages 8 to 12 in a fun and hands-on environment. Specific episodes of the television show are shown to generate interest in a topic. Experiments related to that episode are then created and implemented by the kids.

The class introduces students to aerospace, plastics, mechanical and civil engineering with some additional physics and chemistry. As an example, students design a car that can only be powered by puffs of air with a limited amount of materials.

Survey results indicate that the “Engineering MythBusters” class ended up being the most popular class offered in the College for Kids program. The original class was eventually expanded from 24 to 60 kids to accommodate the overwhelming demand. This paper presents a summary of the activities presented as well as a discussion of best practices.


College for Kids is a summer enrichment program offered at Penn State Behrend. It has been in existence for 14 years. Each week has a morning and an afternoon session and each are 15 hours in length. The program now offers over 100 classes in a variety of topics from art, music, animals, and martial arts to computers, geography, games, crafts and dance. The number of participants is around 1,000 children ages 6 to 18. At the end of the summer, the director of the program sends out surveys to the families of the participants to get their feedback. One request that came back time and again was to see more classes in the area of science and engineering. These areas were not represented in the classes offered in the past.

Penn State Behrend has over 4,000 students that study in one of four schools: business, engineering, humanities and social science, and science.

The School of Engineering has over 1,100 students and offers bachelors’ degrees in computer engineering, electrical engineering, electrical and computer engineering technology, mechanical engineering, mechanical engineering technology, plastics engineering technology and software engineering. Within the last year, we moved into a brand new 162,000 square foot facility with

Ford, M. (2008, June), Engineering Mythbusters Brings Engineering Principles To Kids Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3713

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