Jim Manning (Partner, Roseville Office) recently had the opportunity to share his engineering expertise with area sixth graders. At the request of his sixth grade nephew, Jim volunteered at an all-day event at Chippewa Middle School in North Oaks, MN on May 10. The classes were asked to design and construct shelters for their ice “penguins” to keep them from melting in the “sun” created by the heat lamps in a hot box.


The students had to design an enclosure to a budget using various materials at different costs. After each of three designs and cooking in the hot box, the kids measured the percent of mass their penguin lost during the process, discussed how they could improve their shelter, redesigned and reconstructed it, and again measured their results.


The students had been participating in a school program called iCREATE, which uses various collaboration, thinking, and exploring activities as a part of their STEAM curriculum. This particular project activity involved studying the engineering design cycle, energy transformation, thermal energy transfer and climate change.


During the analysis, designing, sketching and building, Jim was able to interact and answer questions from the students, as well as provide feedback regarding their designs. During the cooking times, Jim spoke about his career in the engineering industry and what students can expect if they pursue a similar career path. Part of Jim’s presentation was discussing how he effectively works with peers and stressing the importance of collaboration. Another aspect was learning how to think critically and be open to different opinions and perspectives.


He brought along drawings of projects for the kids to look at, talked about insulating materials and how as a mechanical engineer was able to work on systems which heated and cooled our buildings to keep us comfortable, and passed around a space shuttle insulating tile for all to see and touch.


The kids were very interested during the discussions, and Ms. MacGillivray thought it went very well. Jim also indicated that he made it through lunch with his nephew and friends without earning lunch detention