OSSINING, N.Y. -- Anne M. Dorner Middle School students participated Thursday in Engineering Day when 18 scientists and engineers from IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights spent the day working with seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Students participated in a variety of classroom experiments, along with mentoring sessions in the library. The initiative was designed to encourage more students to pursue careers in math, science and technology.
Event organizer Alan Bivens, senior manager of cloud systems and analytics at the Watson Research Center, said it’s important to bring the message to children that they can have fascinating and lucrative careers creating and improving technology people use on a daily basis.
Eighth-grade students turned Life Savers, straws and paper into puff mobiles that they could blow across the floor. Seventh-grade students tried to cushion raw eggs with enough tissue, cotton balls and marshmallows so they wouldn’t break when dropped.
Matt Thoennes, an IBM senior engineer, climbed atop a desk in a science lab with seventh-graders and dropped the egg contraptions onto plastic sheeting taped to the floor.
“Do we have a survivor?” he asked each time, as one of his colleagues fished the “eggonaut” out of its wrappings to see if there had been any leakage.
Four out of nine times, the answer was yes. The team that “spent” the least amount of money on supplies – plastic straws cost $5 each in the game, for example – won the challenge.
During the mentoring session in the library, several students asked Bivens to explain something he had invented. He described technology that can sense whether there are areas of a computer system that are overtaxed and redistribute the work to compensate for that.
Nearby, children crowded around a 3-D printer and handled some of the designs Jason Pelecanos, who works in speech research at IBM, had printed out. They included a plastic glow-in-the-dark bracelet, chess pieces and a white octopus figurine whose surface turned pink when he shone an ultraviolet light on it.
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