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Posted 5/2/2012

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May 2, 2012

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VICKSBURG, Miss. — Six current and former ERDC-Vicksburg employees hosted an engineering workshop for the fourth and fifth grade Gifted and Talented Educational Services (GATES) class at Bovina Elementary School March 20. Damarys Acevedo-Acevedo, Dr. Susan Bailey, Jose´ Mattei-Sosa, and Bobby McComas all from EL, Dr. Jackie Pettway from CHL and former employee Bobby Carpenter participated in the outreach project, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers Vicksburg Branch.

The workshop kicked off with the staffers asking students, "What is engineering? What do you think engineers do?" Acevedo gave a brief overview on the topic, with the emphasis on civil engineering duties. Each of the engineers then introduced themselves and discussed briefly what they do at work and what they enjoy about their jobs.

The volunteers led students in four engineering activities during the visit. Acevedo and McComas hosted an activity where the kids had to clean an oil spill caused by an oil tanker using cotton balls. The focus of the exercise was to learn how dangerous oil spills are, the difficulty of cleaning an oil spill and different techniques that are used in during cleanup, including geotubes, geobags, detergents, and skimmers.

Bailey and Carpenter showed the students how to construct a suspension bridge using a sheet of paper. The kids were able to shape the paper in different ways and determine what type of structure could hold the largest number of pennies, learning how important the structure of a bridge is.

Mattei showed the students the difference between Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids behavior by making an experiment with cornstarch and water. In addition, Pettway made a flume demonstration using different types of hydraulic structures, showing the students how these structures change the natural flow of water. The students were able to get their hands on these activities and learn basic engineering concepts.

"This was a great experience for all of us including the engineers, students, and teachers. The kids showed great interest in engineering and learned how fun and interesting is to be an engineer," said Acevedo. Being able to share our knowledge with those smart and enthusiastic kids is very rewarding, especially when we realize that we are their role models."

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