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Kids Birthday Parties: “Having Fun And Learning Engineering”

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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

New Ideas for ChEs II (aka ChE Potpourri)

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.828.1 - 13.828.15



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Paper Authors


Gerardine Botte Ohio University

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Gerardine G. Botte: Dr. Botte is an Associate Professor at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at Ohio University and the Director of the Electrochemical Engineering Research Laboratory (EERL) at Ohio. She received her B.S. from Universidad de Carabobo (Venezuela), and her M.E. and Ph.D. from University of South Carolina. She worked for three years as a Process Engineering in a Petrochemical Complex (PEQUIVEN, filial of PDVSA. Venezuela) before going to graduate school. Dr. Botte applies chemical engineering principles for the analysis of electrochemical systems. She has been working on the analysis of electrochemical systems for the past ten years. Her current research interests are in fuel cells, hydrogen production, and engineering education.

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Keeley Schneider Ohio University

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Keeley Schneider: Ms. Schneider is an undergraduate chemical engineering student at Ohio University in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. She is currently working in the Electrochemical Engineering Research Laboratory (EERL) as an undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Gerardine G. Botte’s direction. Her current research interests are in fuel cells, and hydrogen production.

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Bryan Boggs Ohio University

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Bryan K. Boggs: Bryan is a Ph.D. student majoring in chemical engineering at Ohio University’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He received a B.S. in chemical engineering from West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVUIT). He is working on his dissertation under the guidance of Dr. Gerardine G. Botte, which focuses on ammonia as a source of hydrogen for fuel cells.

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


Abstract According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)1, interest in science, math, and engineering among the next generation in the United States has been declining at an alarming rate for several decades. This may be caused from intimidation that these subjects pose to primary and secondary education students. Educating these students (K- 12th grade) on the social and economic benefits of pursuing careers in science and technology through fun, unique, and interactive parties is an excellent opportunity and is the focus of this paper. These science-oriented parties can be used for a plethora of occasions including: birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, lock ins, celebrations, and much more. Typically, educational outreach programs teach students who are already interested in science and engineering. These engineering parties are a surprise and capture attention from children who have never expressed interest in science and math before. In addition, these parties, organized by volunteering college students at local universities and/or colleges, help parents plan and operate educational and fun parties. This paper discusses how programs can be developed at universities and colleges allowing college students to give to the community and serve as role models for the future generation of scientists and engineers. The program consists of college students coordinating entertaining activities for the parties that use safe, easy-to-do, and enjoyable games involving science and engineering. The program engages the community: parents, undergraduate students, graduate students, and educators. Examples of experiments and alternatives on how the program can be adopted and implemented by different colleges and universities for a birthday party are discussed.

Introduction One of the problems that parents have every time their child’s birthday is approaching is “What can I do this year to make my child’s birthday experience fun and different? Planning an exciting, original, and rememberable birthday party is tedious and some times expensive. An outreach program implemented at a near by university or college willing to offer their services to help parents plan their child’s party is a solution. At the same time, such a program can serve as an alternative way of teaching children grades K-12 science and engineering by having fun in a non-traditional way which is “birthday parties”.

There are many outreach programs in place now for children grades K-12, but none of them involve a birthday party. The University of Colorado at Boulder2 has engineering workshops and engineering laboratories for children to attend with a goal in expanding the love of engineering in women and minorities. Montana State University’s Civil Engineering department3 works with 2nd and 3rd graders to show the exciting side of bridges and dams and their real life connections to mathematics and engineering in a workshop setting. Also, Oregon State University4 has a National Science Foundation funded program of graduate students who bring engineering activities to local elementary schools with the intent to participate minorities and women as much as possible.

Ohio University is working on a new type of non-traditional outreach program call “Engineering Birthday Parties”. This concept has the potential to outreach children with a more

Botte, G., & Schneider, K., & Boggs, B. (2008, June), Kids Birthday Parties: “Having Fun And Learning Engineering” Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3631

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