Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Experience learning – the E3 Fair

We know that when students are excited about a subject, the effect of that enthusiasm spills over into other areas of learning and enhances performance.  We also know that experiential learning is internalized far more readily than passive learning.  Given the importance of such things, several blogposts over the coming year will be devoted to learning experiences that can be life changing because of the stimulation and new exposures they provide.

One such unique event is next week, the annual E3 Fair at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  E3 stands for Engineering -Exploration - Experimentation.  This fair is sponsored by RIT along with the Rochester chapters of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and AMSE (American Society for Mechanical Engineers).  Many local engineering firms also participate.  The objective is to provide students an opportunity to learn about engineering professions, to meet and interact with practicing engineers, and to begin learning how to "engineer" solutions to problems. 

Research has shown that the seeds of interest in STEM subjects are often sown in middle school, and this fair is for students in grades 6-8.  The students can participate in the fair by creating an exhibit about an experiment or project that involves engineering or technology, or by being part of a team of students who build a motorized LEGO vehicle or LEGO robot to perform a specific task.  In preparation for the fair, teams of students spend weeks working with mentors in their home schools to design and prepare their LEGO constructions for these competitions. 

Over the past two years more than 1400 middle school students from throughout the surrounding area have participated in the fair.  High school students also attend to talk with exhibitors about career opportunities in engineering and technology.

The fair, which is free to attend, is open to parents and community groups as well.  This year the fair will run from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Clark gymnasium on the RIT campus.  For more information, go to the event website at .

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