Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) led the outreach as part of Hanford Engineers Week, a nationally recognized event that celebrates the value of the profession.
The classroom visits were sponsored by the Hanford Engineers Week Committee, which is comprised of Hanford contractors. WRPS coordinated the elementary-level activities through a program called “Zoom into Engineering.”
Natalie Young, the event coordinator and a WRPS chemical engineer, said the employees talked with students about what engineering entails, how students can pursue careers in the field, and the contributions of engineers to Hanford’s cleanup.
With the help of the WRPS employees, students built hoop gliders, wind meters, and toothpick bridges.
“It’s so rewarding to see the impact we’re making in the classroom,” Young said. “The support we get from our volunteers is amazing, and the teachers and students are so enthusiastic. It’s only a few hours of our time, but you can really see the difference it makes to these kids.”
This is the seventh consecutive year WRPS coordinated Zoom into Engineering, which grows each year. In 2019, 163 Hanford engineers gave 217 presentations at 30 local schools, reaching more than 7,300 students.
"I think it’s a great learning experience for everyone,” said Bradley, a fifth-grader. “We learned that sometimes we have to work together as a team and cooperate to achieve the goal.”
Fifth-grade teacher Kelsey Jager said students saw that they can learn from failure as part of the engineering process.
“If we fail, we develop a plan to improve our design, make corrections, and move forward,” Jager said. “We’re so thrilled these volunteers are making time to visit our classrooms and help inspire the next generation of engineers. We really appreciate them.”