Engineering camp inspires green ideas

Ricky Lu and Steven Adams show their winning wind turbine design which lifted 150 pennies during the Math and Science Center’s “Wild for Engineering” camp.

Elementary school students are learning about renewable resources and thinking of big ideas for sustainable energy production at the Math and Science Center’s “Wild for Engineering” camp this week.

“They are thinking of ways to still have what we want, but find new energy sources to power them,” said Robin Maddox, operations manager for the center.

Maddox said that this age group, more than any before, will grow up learning and using alternative energy sources and it was important to teach that message to the students at a young age.

The camp is being taught by Mesa State students and is funded through the Colorado University’s Engineering and Applied Sciences TEAMS. The college students traveled to Boulder this month to be prepped to teach the concepts taught at the camp.

“I’ve just been really impressed with this program,” Maddox said, “It really is inspiring in these students and keeping that interest.”

Many of the campers agree. “It’s been really fun and I might look into engineering as a career now,” said Steven Adams, 13.

So far, campers have studied bioenergy and designed a biodome and recycling bins. They also designed and tested their own wind turbines made from common materials such as cups and two-liter coke bottles.

Maddox said all of the designs tested the students’ ability to solve problems such as weight proportion, velocity and energy. “What they make is crude but effective,” she said of the winning wind turbine, which was able to lift 150 pennies using the power of a plastic cup duct taped with index card fins.

Maddox said she hopes the campers will keep thinking about ways to produce more efficient, renewable energy.

The camp ends Friday with a liquid nitrogen ice cream social.

For more information about the Math and Science Center, visit


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