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Volunteers from Intel are serving as role models for kids from several Hillsboro schools.

"Is your job fun or is it hard?" asked one of the fourth-grade students at W.L. Henry Elementary School in Hillsboro of an Intel engineer.

"Both," he responded.

To celebrate National Engineers Week, several groups of engineers from Intel volunteered to work with students on a hands-on activity to promote creativity and innovation.

On Friday, March 2, five volunteers joined Cary Martin's class of energetic and enthusiastic students to build catapults with the goal of getting a ping-pong ball to pop up like a "pop fly." Using only duct tape, paint stirrers, a wooden block and a paper cup, groups of excited children got to work with an engineer to put their imaginations and energy to good use.

"Think creatively," Martin said.

W.L. Henry Elementary is a dual-language school in a diverse area, so the school works hard to find unique opportunities for the students to promote globalization, Martin said.

"Intel is such a cool and diverse community and company within itself," Martin said. "So just opening their eyes and feeling motivated to see that science is really cool and engineering is really cool and (that) they can do this for a job."

With many different backgrounds, one volunteer specifically stood out to Martin.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Isaiah Lopez, 10, slaps at a contraption that he and his classmates built to propel a ping-pong ball into the air during an Intel volunteering event at W.L. Henry Elementary, March 2.Engineer Roman Caudillo was born in Mexico City and came to the United States when he was young, much like many of the students in the classroom, he said. He has worked at Intel for ten years.

"For me, when I introduced myself, I made sure to point out that I was born in Mexico City and I came here when I was young like a lot of the kids here," he said. "Hopefully that serves as an example that a lot of these kids can also find a career that they like, and then when they're in my position, (they can) volunteer, come to the next generations and help them out."

Martin remarked, "So many of our kids have family from Mexico City or are from Mexico, and just that globalization, being at a dual-language school really provides that."

Engineers Week wasn't the first time W.L. Henry has worked with Intel.

"Our classroom specifically has had a really unique opportunity with Intel," Martin said.

The students have a pen pal program with the company, and they have been emailing back and forth on Fridays since the beginning of the school year, she said.

"We had a pizza party with our pen pals once," said fourth-grader Johanna Olivas. The school also had a career day where Intel set up a booth in their cafeteria, she added.

"I was excited to see some of the Intel workers here, even if they weren't the pen pals," Johanna said. "That was kind of cool that they got to work with us, and I knew we were going to do something really fun."

Though Johanna enjoys working with the engineers, she wants to be a singer and open her own music shop when she's older, she said.

After 45 minutes of trial and error — ping-pong balls flew across the classroom, cheering and clapping came each time a creation worked successfully, and laughter came each time it didn't — the students got to see that science really is fun.

"It means a lot to me," Caudillo said. "This is great. It makes my job all the more better to be able to give back to the community."

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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