Bringing STEM Education to the Ohio State Fair

August 8, 2017

by Dale Schiefer, E.I.T.

I’m fortunate to work for a company where an engineer’s professional responsibility extends beyond the workday, and the commitment to developing a community relationship is strong.

On Sunday, August 6, I participated in the Ohio Technology and Engineering Showcase presented at the Ohio State Fair. The showcase provides a variety of opportunities for youth and their parents, educators and Fair visitors to engage in hands-on technology and engineering activities.

Through my affiliation with the Structural Engineers Association of Ohio, and working with SSI Consulting Design Engineer, Amy Coffield, P.E., we organized an exercise to teach youth about structural engineering by demonstrating the effects of lateral forces on structures.

Working with youth participants to build marshmallow and toothpick towers, we shared how this activity relates to structural engineering. To supplement the lesson, we used a large-scale model of a building frame to demonstrate the core principles of stability and bracing. Youth participants enjoyed hearing that by using various bracing patterns, they could build taller and stronger towers.

It was an honor for us to receive an Outstanding Award for Technology Education by the director of the Showcase event. We both had a great time talking with the students about how structural engineering is all around us, and watching them learn through this fun activity. During the 2018 Ohio State Fair, we hope to return to the event to continue raising the awareness of our profession!