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April 19, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU education majors plan 'Puff-Mobile' engineering event

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Nineteen Slippery Rock University education majors will teach Sharon School District elementary students and their parents and other family members, the importance of using problem-solving skills, including how such skills are used in engineering professions, during a two-day event at the schools April 25-26.

Carmine DeCarlo, SRU professor of elementary education and early childhood development, is overseeing the project.

"This year we have changed the emphasis from one with a focus on literacy, to one that is focused on science," she said.

The SRU students are undertaking their field-service work under the direction of DeCarlo, Marilyn Yensick and Christine Walsh, both assistant professor in the elementary education department, at Sharon's three elementary schools, Case Avenue, Musser and West Hill.

"Our overall concept is to involve the students in first through third grade and their parents or other family members in working together to solve a problem. The problem, in this case, will be to create and construct a 'Puff-Mobile,' a small car made from Lifesavers, paper, paperclips and straws that can be powered by a person's breath," DeCarolo said. During another activity, the children will race their Puff-Mobiles in the school gymnasium. Prizes for the winning designs will be presented.

Students will huddle with their participating family members, thus learning team work, and then design the Puff-Mobile, test it, go back to the drawing board, rework their idea and test it again, "all things engineers do," she said.

"As many know, President Obama has called for a renewed emphasis on STEM education - science, technology, engineering and math - and this program meets that goal. He has said 'Educate to Innovate,' and we are doing that. We hope students will begin to see that they can become engineers too and that engineering is not just a pie-in-the-sky idea, but if they are good problem-solvers, they can be engineers," she said.

Participating students will leave with a bag that includes another project they can work on at home with their family members.

The 90-minute program will be offered to second graders at 9 a.m., April 25, at Case Elementary; first through third graders, 8:45 a.m., April 26, at West Hill Elementary and at 1 p.m., April 26 at Musser Elementary.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.