Skip to main content


June 6, 2002

Media Contact:
   Troy Anderson, (858) 822-3075 or


On May 31, about 350 local fifth-graders from Logan, Miramar Ranch and Spreckels Elementary Schools came to UCSD to compete in a head-to-head model roller coaster competition, tour the university, and interact with students and staff from the Jacobs School of Engineering. The event culminates an extensive mentoring program initiated by the School's Engineering Student Services (ESS) office. "Reaching out to elementary school students is a great way to achieve the School's goal for community service. This program benefits our engineering students by providing an opportunity to work with young students while striving to increase elementary student participation in science activities through hands-on experiments," remarked Susan Kelly, ESS Outreach Coordinator.

For the past nine months, Jacobs School undergraduates from various student organizations, including the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) have been fixtures in the youngsters’ classrooms, inspiring an interest in science and engineering by teaching basic principles through hands-on projects. According to Danielle Robles, assistant outreach coordinator for SWE and a mechanical & aerospace engineering junior, "We've been doing outreach with these schools throughout the year and through every quarter – basically doing various science experiments from making ice cream to playing with Slinkys® and explaining physics."

Most recently, the volunteers provided guidance in the creation of customized model roller coasters made from clear, flexible vinyl tubing, fastened to a wooden base. The young designers brought their creations to UCSD and were judged on a number of criteria, including speed, creativity of design, and material conservation. Ball bearings served as the "cars" and were sent through the would-be tracks. "It's really great to have the kids out here and get them excited about college, and all of the possibilities that are in science and engineering, and hopefully they'll stick with it," said Robles.

During the roller coaster construction process, which lasted about three weeks, the fifth-graders studied topics from the California and NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) standards such as force and motion, speed, potential and kinetic energy, gravity, and centrifugal and centripetal forces as their designs progressed.

While on campus, the fifth graders also had the opportunity to ask a panel of Jacobs School students questions regarding college life and engineering, as well as "real-world" applications for the knowledge learned within the various engineering majors.

In addition, the youngsters toured UCSD's EarthKam facility ( to receive a general overview of the program and how satellites can take pictures, and learned about the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. EarthKAM is a NASA sponsored program that provides stunning, high quality photographs of our planet taken from the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Mentoring and outreach are integral parts of the Jacobs School's mission as it strives to encourage local, often underrepresented students to see college as a realistic option and become interested in science and engineering. For more information on outreach and mentoring, contact Susan Kelly ( at 858- 534-4317.

Students spent several weeks constructing one-of-a-kind model roller coasters under the guidance of Jacobs School volunteers.

Local fifth graders get first-hand insight on college and engineering from Jacobs School students.

Students learn about satellite technology at UCSD's EarthKam facility.

Print News Release  Email News Release

Search News


Subscribe to our Newsletter

RSS Feeds