What do EIRs do?
The EIR program is unique in that we allow the engineer and school to work together to develop a custom-tailored program that meets the needs of the school community. Because we are in classrooms from kindergarten to grade twelve, because our engineers come from all walks of life and because all schools have different needs, it does not make sense to have prescribed way of executing the program. EIRs work in collaboration with teachers to develop EIR activities that are curriculum-linked and demonstrate the real-world applications of classroom theory. They range from presentations to hands-on experiments and construction activities to science fairs, from research projects to field trips to invention conventions. EIRs can also answer student questions about engineering, offer career advice, and provide student mentorship. The EIR Office is there to help support this journey, brainstorming ideas, giving feedback, and helping the program succeed wherever it is implemented.
Hydraulic mazes, roller coaster competitions, giant school yard sundials and oversized 300-pound pendulums… edible cell projects and pinhole cameras … making concrete, concocting liquid nitrogen ice cream, flight simulators, career talks and advice… we could go on and on about the wonderful things our EIRs get up to in the classroom. But don’t take our word for it… sign up to be involved with the EIR program today and experience the wonder for yourself!
Here are some of the amazing projects that have emerged from the EIR program over the years:
First grade students revisited the timeless children’s tale The Three Little Pigs as part of a Structures lesson. Working in groups, students built houses out of straw (drinking straws), wood (popsicle sticks) and brick (Lego). A fan substituted for the huffing and puffing of the big bad wolf.
Building your own rockets, motors, and cars is a popular activity for EIRs and students of all ages. Building a solar powered car is extra-cool and can be linked to discussions of environmental responsibility and alternative energy.
One EIR challenged the whole school – from the smallest kindergarten student all the way to the principal and administrative staff – to build earthquake proof structures out of spaghetti and plasticene. According to the teacher, the EIR was instrumental in inspiring the students to try their best… and beat their teachers! The winning students (a grade one class and a grade six class) had a pizza lunch to celebrate.
An EIR working at Gennum Corporation in Hamilton had 12th grade students design their own microchips. The microchips were then actually manufactured through the Canadian Microelectronics Corporation, based in Kingston, and students had a chance to test their microchips at Gennum’s facilities. Amazing!
A background in 3D Computer Graphics helped one EIR put a special twist on an old school project. Students in grade six were asked to come up with a new being they thought could exist on another planet. They had to explain what it looked like and how it was adapted for life on its home planet. Then, they got to design and bring their extraterrestrial being to life with 3D software. Check out some of the amazing results!
An amazing activity for older students, building a classic Rube Goldberg Machine is a fantastic way to engage imagination and creativity while learning about Structures and Mechanisms. A number of our EIRs have successfully implemented this project in grade four, five and six classrooms.
Alongside their work with students, one teacher/EIR team in Cambridge organized a workshop for teachers on the mechanics of solids. The two sessions provided background and theory for the structures and mechanisms strand of the Science and Technology curriculum. Participants also had the opportunity to do some hands-on work with levers, pulleys and gears. Another EIR wrote a regular newsletter home to parents. She let them know what was going on in the EIR program at their school while providing do-it-yourself experiments and encouraging them to get involved with their children’s science learning at home.