Outreach/NSF Includes Grant

The piece titled "What fan cars can do for high school students." was written by Kirstin Laird, as well as Owen Piao, Adam Jones, and Kaitlyn Heun. The piece titled "The Sociology of Building a Fan Car" was written by Karimah Jones. These pieces were written as part of a workshop that was done on January 27th, 2018 as part of a collaboration between the MTEI program and the Upward Bound program.


What fan cars can do for high school students by Kirstin Laird, Owen Piao, Adam Jones, and Kaitlyn Heun

     What can fan cars teach a student? Cornell sponsored programs such as Upward Bound and STEP, use the STEM set-up, to help students develop and understand what is going on around them, and to use it as they grow. On January 27th, 2018, Cornell came up with a project to connect each individual person to different aspects using one project. The morning was started with the teens being placed into groups, but being allowed to create their own fan car either on their own, or combining their materials to create improved and creative cars. Through this project, teens either had to use the instructions given and create exactly what is stated, or they could go with their own ideas. Fan cars created by these students, varied in different styles, creativity. Cars consisted of a propeller to multiple propellers. Some even had outside additions added in, such as a go-pro, or being covered in all tape, looking similar to a race car. Once cars were finished, the students had three different competitions they could compete in. The beauty pageant , which was judged, not based on what the judge wanted, but the creativity of each. Another competition was the longest the car could go before crashing into a wall. Which, in order to achieve, students would have to modify and improve their cars, making them straight and less likely to crash.  The final competition was how fast cars could go in a certain distance. Which had to be modified to make it light, and durable. After, the students were able to split up into groups based on their interests. From improving their cars further, to being able to see what engineering can do for the real world. 

     Students were able to use problem solving skills, teamwork, and other useful skills. The skills taken away, can be used to finish their high school careers, to the real world. Depending on what career path each student decides to take, days such as the one provided to this group, gives these students life long skills that can help them in their line of work, and building relationships. 


The Sociology of Building a Fan Car by Karimah Jones

    On the 27th of January, 2018, Upward Bound and STEP students got into groups to build fan cars. Staff members provided us with wood, a propeller (the fan), motor, battery; and also wheels, directions, and wires. We used electrical tape and glue to hold everything together. While some kids chose to work in groups, others chose to work as individuals. The outcomes were the same on the surface, in terms of the efficiency of the fan car, whether students chose to work in groups or by themselves. The day consisted of competition, insecurity, frustration and failure, but it also consisted of self-advocacy, helping others, and finding alternate directions in order to accomplish resilience, the ability to bounce back.

    Competition has the unique ability of bringing out both the best and worst in humans. On one hand, it motivates success, yet on the other, it can lead us to losing sight of who we are. Feeling the need to be superior naturally brings about feelings of insecurity, and building the fan car was no exception. Peering over to see how the person next to you was building the fan car design made it easy to notice the weaknesses of each other’s cars and strategies, rather than truly seeing the person making the car-- their personality; their hopes and dreams; who they truly are. Having feelings of doubt and insecurity, however small, may have influenced the strategies we used to build our cars. So, had we let those feelings melt, an alternate outcome may have emerged.

    Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a setback, whether it is through human nature or through the mechanical nature of an object, like a fan car. An example of resilience was when one of the the fan cars crashed into a wall, turned around and kept going, but in a different direction. This instance connects to resilience of humans because humans tend to find alternate ways to move forward when hit by failure. Our resilience was the key to successfully executing the challenge we faced today- building the fan cars. Resilience is the glue and the electrical tape that holds us together, the propeller that keeps us moving forward in life even though it may not always be on a straight path.