Martinsville Bulletin: Students learn about engineering at NCI

Martinsville Bulletin: Students learn about engineering at NCI
Bulletin Photo by Amie Pickeral: Eli Simpson attaches spider-like legs on his lunar lander.

June 28, 2016


Creativity (and marshmallows) went a long way toward problem-solving on Monday.

John Hatchett, the AET assistant program director and VSU faculty-in-residence at the New College Institute in Martinsville, interacted with rising sixth- and seventh-grade boys interested in engineering. The four day summer camp, Engineering for Boys, invited young men to learn about math, science, and engineering in a creative environment with like-minded individuals.

On Monday, 13 boys competed against one another to create a successful lunar lander out of household materials. Each participant had one piece of cardboard, one small plastic cup, three index cards, two regular-sized marshmallows, 10 miniature marshmallows, three rubber bands, eight plastic straws, a pair of scissors and tape. All equipped with the same materials, each boy designed his own lunar lander to safely deliver the two regular-sized marshmallows – which the boys pretended were astronauts – to the surface of the moon. The astronauts had to remain in their open capsule — the plastic cup — without falling out upon impact when dropped from a certain height.

To stabilize their landers, Hatchett taught campers about shock absorption. Hatchett and the campers talked about different things that have shock absorbers like mountain bikes, cars, and even the human spine. Then, campers brainstormed ideas to make their lunar landers successful.

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