Riding High

In roller coaster outreach project, industrial design students teach STEAM principles.
Three students demo their homemade roller coasters
St. Mary students Payton Connelly, Julia Klein and John Koger demo their roller coaster with Jefferson industrial design mentors Michael Levengood and Richard Perfetto.

After weeks of prep with their Jefferson mentors, a dozen wide-eyed and enthusiastic students from St. Mary Interparochial School showed off their mini roller coasters to proud parents in the audience. During their final presentations, the second, third and fourth graders shared their favorite parts of the project and some new vocab words. They then took turns rolling marbles down their paper-and-tape creations that featured colorful names like “Super Galactic Space Engine.”

Five industrial design students volunteered at the school’s science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) program, teaching the basics of physics and best practices for coaster foundation, structure and track placement.

“It’s insane,” marvels junior Richard Perfetto. “They were so quick to pick up everything.”

In the last “sprint” leading up to their May 2 presentations, the young students did their final test runs with their mentors and put the finishing touches on their models, such as taping bamboo-shaped adornments for one team’s “Red Panda” coaster. The Jefferson students even pitched in to help with some of the spelling.

Fourth-grader Payton Connelly eagerly thanked the mentors for helping her group. “It was really fun!” she says, as her fourth-grade teammate Julia Klein sticks a tiny “No Refunds” sign to their ride.

Kristin Ricchiuti, who coordinates St. Mary’s STEAM afterschool program, applauds the industrial design students for allowing her kids to navigate their vision to fruition and exposing them to math and science in creative ways. (In fact, she took her students for a field trip to the University’s Innovators’ Expo to further demonstrate what areas they could explore.)

Along with Perfetto, junior Charles Barilo and seniors Michael Levengood, Emily Monath and Kelly Sullivan worked on the project, visiting the Center City school for five Thursday sessions.

Monath enjoyed the opportunity to step away from the classroom and share the knowledge she gained through her own educational journey to the next generation of aspiring designers and engineers.

“This type of outreach truly illustrates the University and our students at their best,” says Todd Kramer, associate dean of the School of Design and Engineering.

, , , ,
Science and Technology