This past July, Spec Engineering hosted the fourth annual Junior Engineers Camp. Third through fifth graders joined the Spec Engineering team for a week full of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities. Each day focused on a new topic, with representatives from the engineering team connecting fun science activities to a day-in-the-life of a Spec engineer and his/her projects.
Born out of the desire to become more engaged in the community, Spec Engineering created the Junior Engineers Camp in 2017 to help develop excitement for the real-life world of engineering among youth. Campers come from across the area and have found us through advertising and word of mouth while others are children of friends or employees of Spec. This year, the camp opened a new opportunity for past campers who have aged out of the program to participate as volunteers. They assisted campers in crafts and activities as well as preparations, organization, and clean-up.
“The best part of directing Junior Engineers Camp is seeing our ideas come alive through the campers’ wonder and excitement. It’s so rewarding to experience the creativity and questions that are sparked by our campers each day,” says Camp Director Stephanie Walker.
It was a full week of activities! Monday’s focus was pneumatics, with the campers building their own simple pneumatic machine constructed of popsicle sticks, pumps, tubing, and straws. Project Manager Andrew Gemmell visited camp and introduced the campers to stomp rockets. The campers had a blast experimenting with the ideal amount of air and pressure they needed to make their rockets fly.
“It was amazing to see how enthusiastic the Junior Engineers were at camp this year! Witnessing technology and education working together to expand the mindset of future careers in STEM at a young age was an incredible experience to be a part of,” says Gemmell.
The campers enjoyed creating scribble bots on Tuesday as the focus shifted to electrical and controls engineering. Senior Controls Engineer Jason Earl visited camp to give an overview of his role and help troubleshoot the scribble bots. On Wednesday, Senior Project Manager Jennifer Zielke brought chemical engineering to life by making slime and creating tie dye camp shirts.
Thursday’s focus was material and flow, so the campers took common kitchen ingredients and measured how the different materials also varied in their flow rate and time. Camp concluded on Friday with a lesson on 3D printing from Sales Application Engineer Blake Wuestenfeld. Each camper got to use a 3D pen to create their own design.
Each day of camp, there was a designated ‘Safety Second’ topic to connect important safety precautions to the daily activities. Safety is a core value at Spec Engineering, and the team lives by the Gray Safety 7 to ensure our workplace is safe for all. Safety Intern Michael Leonhardt talked to the campers each day about topics including ear, eye, body, hand, and respiratory protection. On Wednesday, Spec’s Safety Manager Jonathan Malakoff and Safety Coordinator of Gray Inc., Bill Carey, made a special visit to talk with the campers about their experiences with safety and encourage them to take the proper precautions in different situations.
“I had a terrific experience talking to the Junior Engineers about safety topics. The daily safety activities for the group provided a good opportunity for learning about the types of PPE and in what situations each PPE type should be used, both professionally and in life at home for sports/leisure activities,” says Malakoff. “There were some great questions from the campers, too!”
The Spec team is already looking forward to hosting the fifth annual Junior Engineers Camp next summer. Thank you to all who participated this year!
View a video from the week.