Middle School Project HOME Program Connects Engineering Design and Pandemic Response

Middle School immersion into the world of science and engineering through Spence’s Project HOME program has continued virtually this year. Funded through a grant from the Starr Foundation and Design and Engineering fund, the theme of Project HOME is learning how scientists and engineers help create safe and healthy places for us to live, work and play. 

As is tradition, Grade 5 students began the four-year program engaging with engineers from the NYC firm of Jaros, Baum & Bolles. Six engineers visited each Grade 5 class. Students were able to hear from the engineers about what they do and ask them questions about their work. 

In particular, this year’s Grade 5 students learned how engineering is applicable now more than ever in addressing some of society's most pressing challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The engineers spent a good amount of time talking about how they create ventilation systems for safe interior spaces to protect against COVID,” shared science teacher Scott Godsen.

The engineers also gave the students two challenges that they will be carrying out in their science classes. In one challenge, students will be conducting an MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) scavenger hunt.

In the other, they will use engineering principles to construct spaghetti towers. Students will have 30 minutes to see who can build the tallest tower using only uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows. The engineers will be returning to debrief and hear about how the challenges went.

This residency was the first of many opportunities for Grade 5 students to engage in science and engineering. Through Project HOME, which spans students’ Middle School years, they will continue participating in a series of experiences and experiments that each student will document in an engineering and design diary. The program culminates in Grade 8 with students completing a capstone project in which they create and design a sustainable home.