MacGillvray Freeman Films and the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, partner with schools nationwide to get students excited about engineering

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Brittany Park, PE, City of Bend Engineering, works with a group of students on the "Daylight in a Bottle" project.

The gymnasium at High Desert Christian Academy was charged with excitement last week as fourth and fifth grade students participated in a science and technology education program with guest engineers.

MacGillvray Freeman Films and the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, have partnered with schools across the country to inspire students to get excited about engineering. They reached out to High Desert Christian Academy, and Melvin Ewing, ASCE K-12 chairman, in addition to two other professional engineers, visited the school last week with inspiring science projects.

"I'm hoping it will really encourage students to become engineers, and if it will interest them in their career paths in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. That would just be great to have more of that in our school," said High Desert Christian Academy Principal Maggie Hale.

The students opened the morning with a DVD produced by MacGillvray Freeman Films entitled "Dream Big." According to Ewing, the film producer does the majority of the highest-grossing and most popular IMAX films to date.

"'Dream Big' is not just a film," said Ewing. "It's a movement. The film is a centerpiece of a massive educational outreach plan to reach students with hands-on activities and engage engineers with students, so they can learn firsthand how exciting engineering can be."

The video takes viewers on a journey of discovery that shows the ingenuity behind marvels like the Great Wall of China and the world's tallest building in Dubai. It focuses on the inspiring work of engineers around the globe.

Following the movie, the students are introduced to a "Dream Big" activity called "Daylight in a Bottle." It is inspired by San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center, where engineers have designed a way to bring natural sunlight into the station in order to make it more efficient. During the challenge, students experiment with ways to make similar devices to light homes of those in need.

"The thing that excited me was that they are trying to make a bunch of preplanned STEM projects like they are doing in the gym today," said fourth grade instructor Terri Gano. She added that the projects are prepped so that teachers who may not be confident in science can go to the "Dream Big" website and get the curriculum they need.

"(It includes) all the questions they should ask their students, all the vocabulary they need, and it's just there so you can print it out with all the directions and go," Gano said. "It's really nice. They do all the footwork for you to encourage you to use more STEM in your classroom."

Aspiring engineers like fifth grader Cole Turner hoped to gain more knowledge of science and technology and some engineering skills from the "Dream Big" projects.

"I've always been kind of interested in science and technology, and just learning about it," Turner said. "I like all of it."

"I like playing and building, and I felt intrigued when they said we were going to build something," said fifth grader Holden Gillman. "I want to have the knowledge to build stuff by myself or teach other people how to build stuff too."

According to Ewing, "Dream Big" aims to educate students on the inspiring work of engineers around the globe, igniting a passion for engineering at an early age — and one that will carry through school years and beyond.

"We also want students to understand how engineers work together to solve the major challenges of our time and shape the world of today and tomorrow," Ewing concluded.

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