Monday, February 2, 2015 by Nayeli Selkis
Two former seniors at Saratoga Springs High School, Sara Wilner-Giwerc and Kayleah Griffin, saw a problem with the lack of exposure to engineering opportunities for younger kids. They decided to do something about it.
These two students are the co-founders of Educating Young Engineers, also known as EYE. The program is designed to get young kids interested in engineering.
“My inspiration for starting EYE was…Mr. Gallagher’s [Engineering Design and Development] class,” said Wilner-Giwerc. “The whole point of the course is to pick a real world problem and come up with a solution. I didn’t know that engineering was a profession…until 7th grade when I had Mr. Sweeney for tech and I just thought it was the coolest thing. Getting kids interested and exposed to engineering at a young age just seemed like a good thing to do.”
In the early stages of the organization, Wilner-Giwerc said, the goals were to “…show more kids that engineering is solving problems…[show them] that there are multiple solutions to the same problem, that it’s okay to try something and have it not work, and that working with others is a crucial part of life. These are all things that come with engineering that are really important for young students.” Early implementation of these concepts better prepares the students for critical thinking and problem solving challenges down the road, she added.
Now that Wilner-Giwerc and Griffin have graduated, the reins have been handed down to three current seniors at the high school: Emma Price, Johanna Gangi and Chris Guillotte. The two founders still help out and problem solve as EYE continues to grow.
“This year our biggest plan for EYE is expansion,” said Price. “We are continuing the programs that were started last year while moving those same successful programs to other school districts. This expansion is mostly taking place through our Saturday Engineering Program. This year, we have already hosted one Saturday Program in Saratoga and another one in South Glens Falls, our first flagship program.” She added that EYE is planning more Saturday programs for other surrounding districts.
During these Saturday Programs, students participate in theme-based engineering activities. The programs are designed to get them thinking about real engineering concepts through projects. In addition to that, the Saturday Programs help EYE raise money for future programs.
Although EYE is mainly a student-run organization, “teachers play an extremely important role in EYE,” Price said. “Teachers throughout the high school assist us with leading the activities at the Saturday Engineering Programs. Mr. Gallagher is definitely the teacher that assists us the most. He acts as a mentor and advisor to EYE.”
The best thing EYE does is “unite a lot of people for a common goal,” said Wilner-Giwerc. “Having parents, students, administrators, community members and teachers all working towards the same goal is a really powerful thing. The fact that we are inspiring kids to make the world a better place…is pretty cool.”
Nayeli Selkis is a freshman staff writer for The Lightning Rod.