Oxford Elementary students inspired by Maine Engineering Expo

Electrical engineer Ron Brown, left, who participated in the Oxford Elementary School Career Day last fall, talks with students, from left, Caleb Morrison, Ryan Preston, Ivree Choate, Joanna Simard and Hannah Gomes at the Maine Engineering Expo at the University of Southern Maine-Gorham campus March 4. Parent Joanna Gomes, background, accompanied the students.  

OXFORD — Inspiring future engineers.

From a LEGO Starburst to lava lamps and bridge building and slime making, several dozen Oxford Elementary School students spent a day viewing and learning about engineering and what engineers do.

Oxford Elementary School was one of 16 schools selected to receive a bus grant from the Maine Engineering Promotional Council (MEPC) to help defer transportation costs to get students to the Maine Engineering Expo at the University of Southern Maine at the Gorham campus on Saturday, March 4.

A total of 38 Oxford Elementary School students, including three older siblings, 22 parents and two staff, got a chance to see first-hand what engineers do, said Ruth Wilson, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teacher at Oxford Elementary School.

The Expo was part of the nationally recognized Engineers Week in Maine. It was celebrated with an annual “E-Week Banquet and Expo,” where some 1,700 engineers, educators, and students gathered for hands-on activities and workshops to learn about engineering and what engineers do, according to information from MEPC.

“We braved the frigid temperatures Saturday to attend the 2017 Engineering Expo thanks to the transportation grant we received,” Wilson said following the event which, she said, was also attended by at least three or four other Oxford Elementary School families she saw there. The families had come on their own.

“Neither the students or parents wanted to leave when time was up,” she said.

“I loved how everything was hands on and I loved how everyone there shared all of the stuff there,” said Ashley L., a sixth-grade student.

Even some third-grade students who attended were excited about the opportunity to play with a big crane and make slime. One was even scanned on a computer, she said.

Others were as enthusiastic in their reviews of the event including parent Jennifer Roy who emailed Wilson after the event.

“This was my first time attending this Expo.  I had my 4th and 6th grade sons with me, their first time attending as well,” Roy wrote in the email to Wilson.  “We all thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  There was so much to see, learn and try for ourselves.  I showed up that morning with two young boys who already dread the thought of college, and I left with those same young boys newly excited about the opportunities college could give them! They learned first hand from this Expo that the sky is the limit!”

Wilson said the group ran into Ron Brown, the electrical engineer who participated in OES’s Annual Aspire Higher Career Fair last fall, and he spent the day “inspiring” students with his knowledge of engineering.

Another surprise for the group was meeting Amber Dennison, an Oxford Elementary School alumni and current engineering student at the University of Maine.