Curiosity Creates: Better Engineers


Getting curious with the next generation

[side view of the TNT trailer]

A new outreach program is infusing the Faculty’s spirit of curiosity into the next generation of engineers. The Tech ‘n’ Tinker (TNT) Trailer, a mobile engineering design classroom that travels to schools around the Greater Kingston Area, is providing students and teachers with hands-on opportunities to learn more about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and how they are utilized by engineers to contribute to a better world.

Boasting a full range of educational technologies, the TNT Trailer is a 24-foot climate-controlled cargo trailer that has been converted into a mobile classroom that can be used year-round. It is fully equipped with multiple display screens to support teaching and learning as well as a range of workshop materials, including 3D printers, micro-controllers, building materials, laptops, and wireless internet.

[trailer door: Where will your curiosity take you?]

When visiting a school, the Connections outreach team delivers six workshops a day. Three of them happen inside the trailer and focus on applying an engineering design process, while the other three happen inside the school’s classroom and focus on digital literacy, coding, and robotics. As one teacher noted, “Not only did [the workshops] relate well to the curriculum in science and math, they were engaging. I had many kids ask me how they can keep coding and if we can experiment with circuits at school. You hooked them, and this doesn’t always happen with workshops!”

The TNT Trailer is part of the Faculty’s larger outreach program called Connections, which is led by Manager Scott Compeau, Sc’08, Ed’11, MASc’15, PhD candidate. Compeau notes that one of the primary objectives of the TNT initiative is to provide a positive learning experience and educational value for both students and teachers. “The TNT Trailer initiative, along with all of the outreach programs offered by Connections such as our Queen’s Summer Engineering Academy, is focused on providing high quality and engaging STEM workshops that are fun and inspiring while being grounded in educational curriculum, theory, and learning skills.”

Many of Connections’ TNT workshops are purposefully designed to include lesson plans for specific grades and subject areas, making it easier for teachers to integrate them into their regular teaching practice. “These lesson plans also include ideas for student assessment and the relevant learning skills that students are strengthening while participating in the workshops, which are essential in education and in engineering,” says Compeau.