Pennsbury 8th Graders Mark Engineers Week

Approximately 800 8th graders from across all three mid­dle schools in the Pennsbury School District kicked off Engineers Week with sev­er­al high-profile VIPs on a Zoom call.

It was our spe­cial hon­or to part­ner with Senator Bob Casey, Jr. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, Boeing CEO David Calhoun, Ms. Mae Krier (Levittown’s “Rosie the Riveter”), Pennsbury Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula, and engi­neers from Boeing Aeronautics to par­tic­i­pate in two lessons dur­ing sci­ence class,” said Pennsbury’s K‑12 Science Curriculum Coordinator, Jamie Swanson

First, on February 17th, Boeing engi­neers Hana McKee and Christina Bowen helped sci­ence stu­dents be curi­ous about such things as: What makes things fly? What is an engi­neer? “After learn­ing about the very impor­tant fac­tors in flight, stu­dents became the engi­neers them­selves in a design chal­lenge to build the best paper air­plane,” said Ms. Swanson.  “Students designed and built their planes, then test­ed them for dis­tance, sta­bil­i­ty, and place­ment of car­go loads. All of the eighth grade stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed in this chal­lenge, then dis­cussed with the engi­neers and each oth­er what designs were the best.”

On Monday, February 22nd, the same stu­dents wit­nessed a spe­cial recog­ni­tion cer­e­mo­ny along with the elect­ed offi­cials and the District Superintendent as Boeing CEO David Calhoun hon­ored Mae Krier. Ms. Krier is a retired Boeing employ­ee who answered the call to hon­or and respect her coun­try in the 1940s by join­ing the “Rosies” from across the coun­try to build the planes that would fly over Normandy and become inte­gral in win­ning World War II. Mr. Calhoun sur­prised Ms. Krier with an announce­ment about the firm’s “Rosie the Rocketeer,” a robot­ic “Rosie” – com­plete with the sig­na­ture red and white pol­ka dot ban­dana – that will soon fly in a Boeing Starliner cap­sule to the International Space Station.

Students watched dur­ing the Zoom call as Senator Casey inter­viewed Ms. Krier. Her words of encour­age­ment to the Pennsbury stu­dents were to “Persevere and nev­er give up! Go do it!” Her admi­ra­tion for the space pro­gram and her Congressional Gold Medal high­light her trail­blaz­ing role. In a con­tin­u­ing chat with Representative Fitzpatrick, Ms. Krier helped to high­light the STEM field and its impor­tance in our ever-changing world.

“We are excit­ed to grow with the STEM occu­pa­tions that Representative Fitzpatrick described as explod­ing for our next gen­er­a­tion of sci­en­tists and engi­neers in the mak­ing,” said Ms. Swanson. Following remarks by Superintendent Dr. Gretzula wel­com­ing Boeing as the District’s newest Pennsbury Partner, sev­er­al of the stu­dents had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to describe how they com­plet­ed the aero­nau­ti­cal design chal­lenge. They also dis­cussed the world of engi­neer­ing and what they know about this career pathway.

Following the two engag­ing ses­sions, Pennsbury teach­ers from each mid­dle school com­ment­ed on the spe­cial event. Tom Mellon, 8th grade teacher at Charles Boehm Middle School, said, “This was such a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for stu­dents to com­plete an activ­i­ty in the class­room and actu­al­ly dis­cuss the sci­en­tif­ic method with women who work in the field of STEM.”

Pennwood Middle School 8th grade teacher, Jessica Berkey, added, “This was a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty for all. Students were engaged in the design chal­lenge and enjoyed con­struct­ing and launch­ing the air­planes.  It was won­der­ful hav­ing two women in the field of engi­neer­ing lead this opportunity.”

Susan Mahoney, 7th/8th grade teacher at William Penn Middle School, added: “What a great expe­ri­ence for our 8th grade stu­dents and teach­ers. It was so nice to hear from the Boeing engi­neers and learn a lit­tle about what they do each day. They showed our stu­dents that it is pos­si­ble to love what you do if you con­tin­ue to work hard and keep learn­ing and make sure you always leave some room for fun! Getting to see Mae Krier was also very inspir­ing for me. She is a strong woman and role mod­el who con­tin­ues to keep help­ing oth­ers and I am proud she is from Levittown, PA just like me!”