It's all elementary: Saint Martin's engineering professors building bridges with local fifth-graders

Jan. 13, 2005

Lacey, Wash. - Vertical and lateral loads? Beam-column design? In an effort to help children develop creativity and problem-solving skills in some new areas, Saint Martin’s College engineering faculty members are finding a fun approach for sharing their scientific expertise with a group of 5th graders Lacey’s Meadows Elementary School this month.

The professors will be visiting the students of Mary Holmberg in the coming week to talk about bridge-building and design. Until Jan. 27, they will continue to visit the school to help Holmberg’s students design their own bridges.

On Jan. 27, the students - about 30 in number - will come to Saint Martin’s to test their bridges at a School of Engineering lab. The tests will run from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. at Saint Martin’s Cebula Hall, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE.

The project - led by engineering faculty members Chun Seong, Pius Igharo and Anthony de Sam Lazaro - will give students an opportunity to see the world in new ways, said de Sam Lazaro, Saint Martin’s dean of engineering.

”The object of the exercise is to get the creative juices of the children flowing within the constraints of physical and mathematical limits,” he said. “If you tell a child to draw something, he or she will generally give you a somewhat disproportionate drawing depending on how they perceive the object. For example, a flower will be much larger than its leaves. With the creativity limited to physics and math, we believe they will start thinking differently.”

Saint Martin’s offers undergraduate programs in mechanical engineering and civil engineering, as well as master’s-level programs in civil engineering and engineering management. While the college’s School of Engineering, with the division of science and mathematics, operates an annual summer camp to expose high school students to potential careers in the sciences through hands-on projects, these are among the youngest students they have worked with.

Anthony de Sam Lazaro
Dean, School of Engineering

Deanna Partlow
Office of Communication