October 21, 2014
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High schoolers tune into technology at CCRI
ROCKING ROBOTS: Dr. Philip Miller, professor of engineering and technology at CCRI, shows area students the benefits of robotics.

Nearly 125 high school students from throughout the state showed up to the Community College of Rhode Island Knight Campus at 400 East Avenue Friday and put their skills to the test in multiple workshops during the school’s fourth annual technology open house.

The goal of the event is to expose students to the option of a future education in technology through hands-on workshops about computer networking, biotechnology, chemical technology, fire science, engineering, nursing, computer studies and more.

Sophomore Caleb Gouge, 15, of Toll Gate and junior Brandon Castaldi, 16, of West Warwick High School, are students at the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center, which is located on the Toll Gate High campus and caters to students who live in Warwick, West Warwick and East Greenwich. Together, they took part in the workshop.

“Engineer Eggs,” which called on them to create a package design to protect an egg from drops at varied heights, including three feet, six feet, nine feet and even 32 feet. To their delight, their egg, which they padded inside a Styrofoam cup, handled the falls.

“We implemented all the stuff we had to make sure the egg didn’t explode,” said Brandon. “We covered the egg with confetti and put two Popsicle sticks in a cross shape at the bottom so it held the egg.”

Jodi Robinson, engineering teacher at CCRI, said the experiment is great for students because they examine basic properties of simple materials and see how they can use them to come up with a cost-effective solution.

“It’s the same thing we do in real world engineering all the time, we just do it a little fancier,” Robinson said. “They learn to look at available materials and design something that serves a function.”

Aside from the egg experiment, students chose from other workshops to participate in including using DNA fingerprinting to unravel a mystery; making slime and nylon in seconds and learning what they have in common; solving a cybercrime through digital forensics, among a handful of others.

Warwick Career and Tech Center’s Liz Charette attended the event and said she enjoys accompanying her students to the event each year. She likes knowing that they have the chance to explore the college, meet instructors and participate in areas they might not have experience with as high schoolers.

“They are improving their networking but also expanding their science, math and engineering skills and puts college on their minds,” Charette said. “I bring sophomores and juniors with me to open their minds up to where they are going to go after high school. I always get great feedback from the students.”

For Brandon, he said he is “leaning in the direction” of pursuing a career in technology but not at college. Instead, he’s thinking about enlisting in the military post graduation.

“I’ll probably go into the Army,” he said. “They have over 150 jobs in the military so I can probably find something that has to do with engineering. I could possibly be a mechanic or something like that.”

Caleb, who plays football as a middle linebacker, as well as indoor and outdoor track to stay in shape for football, said he’s not sure yet, as he is still a sophomore. Regardless, he thought the event was “kind of cool.”

“It’s a really fun experience and shows you what kinds of classes you can take here,” he said.


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