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Grandparents University: Providing the Spark to Elementary Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Descriptions of Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.758.1 - 22.758.7



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Paper Authors


Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig Gunn is the Director of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. His duties include the integration of communication skill activity into all courses within the mechanical Engineering program, including overseas experiences. He works closely with the Cooperative Engineering Education Division of the College of Engineering to monitor the communication skills of students who co-op during their college years. He is currently the editor of the CEED Newsbriefs and is co-author of a number of textbooks focusing on engineering freshmen orientation.

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Grandparents University – Providing the Spark to Elementary Students “XXX’s Grandparents University is an opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren(ages 8-12) to come together for a 3-day educational experience while spending timetogether on the XXX campus. Participants enjoy the college experience of living in thedorms, attending classes across campus and sampling the many highlights of XXX.Grandparents University gives alumni a chance to relive their college days whileexploring campus and creating lifelong memories with their grandchildren.” With thisdescription of the summer activity of Grandparents University at XXX, the Departmentof Mechanical Engineering began the process of bringing impressionable youngsters intothe department to get an early look at mechanical engineering and their possible futuresin the discipline. Over 2600 students and grandparents have participated in GrandparentsUniversity, with over 1400 targeting college of engineering activities. In the third year ofparticipation in the program, the department has decided that the effect upon theyoungsters has been very positive and worthwhile. It is more and more evident that inorder to excite youngsters into becoming engineers, that these youngsters must beinfluenced early by the thrill of engineering, which can last well into their college years.Over the past three years 320 grandparents and elementary students have specificallytaken part in the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s efforts in bringing engineeringto the young. The belief in creating a program that is both educational and fun wascritical when planning an activity for 8-12 year olds and their grandparents. Theparticipants are engaged in learning about mechanical engineering, teamwork, and towerbuilding. Details concerning the planning of the activity, the educational value, the workthat is accomplished by the participants; impressions of the faculty, staff, and graduatestudents; and plans for the future will be presented. The importance of catching theattention of students at an early age along with the support of their parents andgrandparents is something that all engineering schools must take into consideration whenplanning their outreach activities for K-12. The earlier the students are connected toengineering with positive approaches, the earlier they will start the road to seriouslylooking at engineering as a career. Surveys presenting the attitudes of participants will beprovided, along with the details of other departments in the college participating inGrandparent’s University.

Gunn, C. J. (2011, June), Grandparents University: Providing the Spark to Elementary Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18039

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