Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
Matt Stoops, Alicia Bailey, and I started going to Inverness Elementary school last fall. Matt had contacted the school to see about a few of us coming to help tutor and open the minds of young kids to the world of possibilities ahead of them. We ended up on “Taylor’s Team,” also known as Mrs. Taylor’s 3rd Grade Class.
Wednesdays around noon, we leave the office and head over to the elementary school during our lunch break. When we get there, the kids are just finishing their lunch time and getting back to the classroom. The afternoons are their math and science times, so with us being engineers, it worked well for us to get them right into the swing of those subjects.
The kids generally greet us with a great deal of excitement, as their “Engineers” are there to hang out with them. They’re probably more excited that they don’t have to do school work for 15-20 minutes, but we’ll take it. Unbeknownst to them, they’re actually learning good life lessons and great information about how their school work sets the foundation for their success down the road.
The typical schedule for our visits begin with a Q&A session with the entire class. This is the time I think the kids enjoy the most. Those little 3rd grade imaginations go wild with questions to ask. They’ll ask us any question that pops in their head. When we first began, some thought we built buildings, some thought we drove trains and some even thought we could make pencils that are voice controlled so they didn’t have to write.
Over time, we’ve better defined what we Civil/Transportation/Construction engineers do but have informed them that there are other engineers and other professions that do those things they originally thought we did. Their questions tend to be related to what they are studying in math or science, so we’re able to draw parallels from their 3rd grade study to our profession. We tell them how we can use perimeter and area in things like drainage and earthwork and how different soil types play into different design and construction techniques.
After the Q&A session, Mrs. Taylor typically sends a few kids out with us to work on some subject that they are behind on. Generally it’s math flashcards or something of the sort, which of course as engineers, we love. Mrs. Taylor may swap kids out, and we’ll just spend a few minutes talking about life and investing in the kids.
This tutoring experience has been great, and I hope to continue in future years. It’s wonderful to see the light go on in these little minds and imaginations about what they can be when they grow up. Hopefully we’ll have some engineers in the bunch, but we try to stress that what they’re learning now, whether it is multiplication tables or geographic formations, will build towards their future and whatever career path they choose to take.
The kids have really taken a liking to their “Engineers”. Whether it’s making us a Christmas wreath with their hand cut outs, or one little girl making us a Happy New Year card, it’s evident to us that we’re making an impact, and that maybe one day these kids can be the leaders of the future.