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The Future of Engineering Starts With Our Kindergarteners

Future of Engineering 2019

Kindergarteners enrolled in Picatinny Arsenal’s Child Youth Services School Age Services program received a special visit from a top proponent of the installation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiative.

Ralph Tillinghast, Science and Technology Advisor for Fire Control Systems and Technology Directorate, part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, met with the children to provide them with a hands-on approach to science.

“It is critical to reach back to the kindergarten and earlygrades to make sure the students are building an understanding and STEM vocabulary, so when they begin to make choices about their future in later grades, they understand what STEM is and see it as an option,” Tillinghast said.

Jody Bisceglia, a management analyst with the Armaments Center’s Human Capital Management Office, and mother of a class member, 5-year-old Stefano, helped to organize the event.

Future of Engineering 2019

“We have the engineer and scientist expertise in our own backyard. If we are not reaching the kindergarten at Picatinny, we are not doing our job,” Bisceglia said.

“The overall goal is to make sure the kids see how engineering and science are part of their lives and to make sure they all know they are already engineers and scientists. That they have the capability to solve problems, using the knowledge, materials and tools they already have,” she said.

With their youthful listeners, Bisceglia and Tillinghast spoke about engineering and the art of inventing.

They helped to make students aware why failure is important in the learning process. In additional, the children were allowed them to touch and play with a 3-D scanner and 3-D printer technology.

One of the activities during the program was understanding the difference between a guess and a prediction. Objects such as a billiard ball, light bulb, and even a dirty sock, were rolled down a ramp.

The kids tried to predict where the objects would stop rolling, based on what they had observed from the previous rolling object.

“The ability to move from a guess, (no knowledge of what may happen) to a prediction (where you use the information gained from your experiences and experiments), is a basic skill for engineers and scientist. That’s what we wanted the kids to experience,” Tillinghast said.

“When we started and asked the kids how many of them are engineers, we only got two or three hands. When we asked at the end, almost every hand went up. That empowerment is why we do STEM outreach,” he added.

Picatinny’s STEM Office often works with local middle and high schools in coordinating educational events, such as solar races, 3-D printing class, summer STEM programs and various robotics competitions.

- Eric Kowal, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs

Original article:
The Picatinny Voice