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Formula Buckeyes teach engineering to middle school students

The Formula Buckeye SAE team recently partnered up with the PAST Foundation in Columbus to teach a group of 10 middle school students about designing and building fuel cells through an initiative led by the Society of American Engineers (SAE) International.

In order to bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to grades K-8, SAE International created the A World in Motion (AWIM) program with different initiatives in which current STEM professionals and students can participate. One initiative is the AWIM Learn Twice initiative where university students partner with local schools and after school programs to teach engineering lessons to younger students of various skill levels.

The AWIM Learn Twice initiative provides university students with training and “engineering challenge” materials to teach K-8 students through a hands-on experiment while also encouraging engineering students to volunteer in their communities and learn more about engineering concepts themselves.

The Formula Buckeyes chose to use the fuel cell challenge to show students how fuel cells work and what they can be used for. Through a team member’s connection, the Formula Buckeyes partnered with the PAST Foundation, which is a group of professional scientists and educators dedicated to bringing new advancements in STEM fields to students and teachers through workshops and new teaching strategies. “[Members of the PAST Foundation] are really open to trying new things, so they were thrilled to let us come in and work with the kids in their after-school program, the Innovators Club,” explained Caroline Kiley, Formula Buckeyes team manager and third-year student of industrial systems engineering at The Ohio State University.

Through the month of November, volunteers from the Formula Buckeye team met with the Innovators Club every Friday for an hour and a half after school. Kiley created the lesson plans based on the AWIM Learn Twice curriculum, and members of the team helped explain the lessons and how to build the fuel cell cars.

team members and students with their fuel cell carsFormula Buckeye team members and PAST Foundation students pose with their fuel cell cars

“It was really a lot of fun,” Kiley said. “The kids were all really eager to learn and I personally enjoyed seeing the guys on the team enjoy working with the kids. Many of the guys would return every week because they genuinely had fun interacting with the kids. The AWIM Learn Twice program is built around the idea of learning through teaching, so the middle schoolers were not the only ones learning -- we were too.”

On December 1, parents will get to come to the PAST Foundation to see all the cars created by their kids through this program. Since the students and Formula Buckeyes enjoyed the experience so much, the team hopes to work with other local schools in the spring to keep bringing engineering to younger students.

By Cassie Theobald, CAR writing intern