Students build straw towers

Indian Trail students build straw towers to celebrate Engineers Week


Indian Trail students were able to put their engineering hats on as they celebrated Engineer Week on Wednesday. A group of Eastman engineers led a presentation about the different types of tasks they oversee, before providing students with their own task of constructing towers out of drinking straws, tape and a few other items.

“This is a chance to reach out and speak with students to explain to them all of the different things that engineers do,” Eastman engineer Fred Cleveland said. “We want to show them all of the neat things that engineers do and hopefully spark their curiosity a little bit to perhaps lead them into a career in the fields of math and science.”

Sixth-grade students in Bear and Deer Hall were given the task of constructing a tall tower with straws and tape. They also had the option to purchase other materials, like extra straws, clothespins, bobby pins, paper clips and extra tape. Whoever built the tallest structure, by spending the least amount of money, was deemed the winner.

Indian Trail sixth-grader Spider Smotherman said that he enjoyed getting to hear from the engineers and trying to construct the tallest tower in the classroom.

“It’s interesting, to say the least,” Smotherman said. “We listened to what they deal with on a day-to-day basis and how they work around and figure out problems. It was fun to take this project into our own hands and make ourselves amateur engineers.”

Indian Trail sixth-grader Addison Taylor said the exercise was a bit challenging, but it was right up her ally as she has dreams of becoming an architectural engineer.

“I love to build things and take things apart and look at them from the inside out,” Taylor said. “I enjoy exploring and finding how different things are built, so I was happy to meet a group of engineers and hear what they do.”

Sixth-grade Science and Social Studies teacher Averil Chaney said the presentation and activity was a good way to get students engaged and eager to learn about a different career path.

“This gives them real-life scenarios about how they are going to use science and math to solve real-world problems every day,” Chaney said. “The students really enjoy getting to hear from outside professionals about how they use things that our students are learning.”

Cleveland said he and other engineers from Eastman love getting to go into the classroom and speak with students. He noted the best part of visiting schools is waiting to see the student who was a bit standoffish turn into the leader of the group.

“It’s fun,” he said about the experience. “I was a kid who would always take things apart. Sometimes I would get them put back together and sometimes I would not. Knowing there are kids out there who think that way but may not have the opportunity to see what engineers look like, this is our chance to reach them.”