July 22-26, UD’s College of Engineering hosted its annual Young Engineers Camp in collaboration with JP Morgan Chase. Designed for rising third through fifth graders, campers participated in a variety of STEM activities such as building and racing solar cars, learning about friction and adhesion, experimenting with computer programming using Scratch, and learning about composite materials. Two graduate students in the BME program taught the campers about the disease of osteoarthritis (OA).

Axel Moore, a second year grad student, taught the kids about how the friction in joints causes wear in the cartilage located between bones and leads to OA. The kids learned to measure friction and weight, and to calculate the friction coefficient. They were shown the devices that measure friction. They also dissected chicken legs so they could find the cartilage.

This was Axel’s fifth time participating in the camp and he enjoyed it, saying the kids were ‘super smart and good listeners’. He was proud to say, “To date I have never had one of the camp kids cut themselves with a scalpel even though they are as young as 5th grade.”

Michael David, who joined UD’s BME program this fall, took the explanation of OA a step further and taught the kids about post-traumatic OA by having them “live” the disease over the course of the week. Post-traumatic OA is an accelerated progression of OA due to a traumatic injury to one of the joints. Michael demonstrated the stages of OA by modeling the cartilage and bones of the knee as a sponge and floor tiles, respectively. For each stage of OA, the students would make imprints of the cartilage using paint, construction paper and the modeled knee, enabling them to visualize the damage to the cartilage.

Michael found the kids inquisitive and eager to learn, each with a unique personality. “I am glad that I had the opportunity to teach such a wonderful group of young, intelligent engineers. Since these kids and many more are our society’s future generation of engineers, exposing them to real life problems and applications of what they learn in the classroom will benefit them tremendously in the long run.”

For more information on the Young Engineers camp.