Fischell Institute Hosts Take Your Child to Work Day Event

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The Fischell Institute hosted a Take Your Child to Work Day event in A. James Clark Hall’s fifth-floor conference room last Thursday, April 25, 2024. 

The event included faculty and staff children participating in four family-friendly engineering activities.

The first activity, led by Fischell Institute Foundry member Ryan Smith, introduced children to an ultrasound device.

Smith explained how the device uses high-frequency sound to create an image plane that shows a cross-section of the object it is scanning. Then, using a gelatin mold he created with objects inside, Smith was able to demonstrate how the device works. 

Once the demonstration was complete, each child had the opportunity to use the ultrasound device to explore the molds and decipher the objects inside. After identifying all the objects, they enthusiastically took the opportunity to try the device on their arms. 

Kat Pacheco, a second year mechanical engineering Ph.D. student in Fischell Institute Fellow Don DeVoes Maryland MEMS & Microfluidics laboratory, taught the children about chemical reactions using baking soda and vinegar volcanoes for the second activity. 

To demonstrate a chemical reaction, each child received a 3D-printed volcano with baking soda and a serving of diluted vinegar. They could also choose to add a color to their reaction. They were invited to mix the components together and watch as the volcanoes erupted with the mixtures. After finishing their first reaction, the children lined up for more baking soda and vinegar, excited to do it again. 

The third activity, co-led by Corinne Martin, a senior bioengineering student in Fischell Institute Fellow Chris Jewell’s research lab, and Alyssa Petersen, a first year chemical and biomolecular engineering Ph.D. student in Affiliate Fellow Hannah Zierden’s research lab, introduced principles of momentum using projectile devices. 

The children learned about hands-on engineering by building ping-pong ball shooters out of balloons and paper cups. Using their newly built devices, the kids demonstrated how pulling back and releasing the balloon transferred momentum from the balloon to the balls and sent them flying across the room. 

Participants also learned about size separation by putting different sizes of styrofoam and ping pong balls through a mesh of pipe cleaners. This showed how polymer chains in a hydrogel can inhibit the movement of larger objects. 

In the fourth activity, co-led by Monica Chu, a fourth year bioengineering Ph.D. candidate, and Futoon Aljirafi, a third year chemical and biomolecular engineering Ph.D. student in Fischell Institute Director Bill Bentey’s Biomolecular and Metabolic Engineering laboratory, attendees made a pH sensor from cabbage leaves. 

The children learned how everyday plants like cabbage contain anthocyanins that change color based on their pH solution. Colors can go from plain blue to bright pink and yellow. Chu and Aljirafi also explained 3D printing to participants by having them pipe different colored frosting onto cookies. 

Ten children attended the event, ranging in ages from five to twelve years old. 

With the success of the 2024 Take Your Child to Work Day, the Fischell Institute is looking forward to hosting it again next year. 

Published May 3, 2024