Well – It’s all over but I can say it went really really well. Engibear’s Bridge was officially launched under the COLA at Strathfield North Public School (my daughter’s school). After weeks of planning and coordination with the school, NSRU, Robogals, The Science and Engineering Challenge and Engineers Australia everything finally came together – and was followed by a fabulous engineer-themed day full of activities for the children to participate in.
The launch speech was by Engineers Australia National President Professor Alex Baitch. The kids really liked the ending, where we asked Professor Baitch to cut the ribbon to signify the launch of the book….but it was strung up 2m above his head. That gave us the opportunity to bring in Mr Rob Smerdon, chief of operations of the North Strathfield Rail Underpass (NSRU) project, who rigged the good professor in safety equipment and sent him up in a knuckle-boom to cut the ribbon. It was a hit with the kids.
So too was the collection of equipment NSRU brought along for the kids to enjoy. They had a Franna Crane, an excavator, a mobile hoist and the knuckle boom over on the grass area, where they demonstrated lifting weights and they organized the kids to sit in the crane and excavator (brilliant!).
At the same time, Robogals and the Science and Engineering Challenge ran a bridge-building activity with the older kids, where they got to build paper bridges or platforms and test them with weights until they failed….although some were sufficiently powerful to resist even the heaviest load – quite an achievement for a year 5 or 6 student.
The real aim for the day was more than achieved….to get students connected with the idea of engineering. It was a great achievement to bring together so many similar minds – NSRU, Engineers Australia, Robogals and Science and Engineering Challenge….all under the banner of Engibear to inspire the children and really give them a great day.
As a bit of background, the Author Andrew King first envisaged the Engibear series primarily due to there being an utter lack of children’s literature that talked about Engineering. Consequently, it goes unnoticed in the general community and yet in so many ways engineering is an integral part of the world we live in today. And yet, engineering sits low on the priorities of students considering careers to the point where we graduate a significant proportion LESS engineers each year than our society needs. So to start at the beginning, so to speak, we are hoping Engibear will light a spark in the minds of the younger generation.