Each year during National Engineers Week, 6th graders from either Chief Joseph Middle School or Sacajawea Middle School in Bozeman will spend a day at MSU gleaning some engineering know-how from College of Engineering students by participating in hands-on engineering activities. Members of College of Engineering student organizations will explain engineering concepts behind activities such as making ice cream, working with a remote-controlled robot, see what happens during an earthquake, learn how to construct an oil pipeline model, and explore bridge design.

Sample Engineer-a-thon Events

Alaska Oil Pipeline

Students will create an oil (syrup) pipeline out of PVC pipe to transfer oil across the Alaskan terrain.  Focuses on the environmental impact of engineering and how to make solutions efficient so that the environment isn’t negatively affected – Facilitated by American Indian Science and Engineering Society

Making Ice Cream with Liquid Nitrogen

Facilitated by American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Concrete Mixing

Students will mix their own batch of concrete and place it into a mold. This fast-setting concrete will allow kids to create a finished product that they can take home. Facilitated by American Society of Civil Engineers

Bridge Design

K’nex Bridge Construction: The K’nex Bridge Construction Activity is a competition to see which group of kids can construct the strongest bridge structure made of K’nex. Facilitated by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) MSU student chapter

Demonstrating the Effects of an Earthquake

Students will get to see and discuss how earthquakes affect structures by using a shake table and a building model – Facilitated by Chi Epsilon

Spinning Volcano

Students will see how a volcano is created using rubbing alcohol. Facilitated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) MSU student chapter

Water Filter Systems

students learn about different ways to filter water

Students will make water filters from cups and use sand, newspaper, cotton balls, and rocks as the materials to put in the filters. They will then run dirty water through the filters and see how well they work while discussing how different materials can be used and how clean water is a problem in the world - Facilitated by Engineers without Borders

LEGO Assembly Line

Students will assemble LEGOS in an assembly line to show the benefits of process optimization- Facilitated by Institute of Industrial Engineers

Crash Attenuator

students test ways to attenuate the impact of crashes

Students will build crash attenuators from household supplies such as paper bags, cotton balls, tooth picks, straws, and tape.  A toy car with an egg strapped in the back is driven down a ramp hitting the student-built impact attenuator which is placed at the end of the ramp.  If the egg survives the trip un-cracked then attenuator was successful- Facilitated by Institute of Transportation Engineers

Electricity from Pedaling a Bicycle

Students will see how electricity is generated by pedaling a bicycle as well as using fruit to power light bulbs. Facilitated by the Electrochemistry Society at MSU

Fun with Ooblec Samples and Bacteria-enriched Juice

Students will be able to see and play with ooblec samples in Ziplock bags as well as enjoy some bacteria-enriched juice.  Facilitated by the Society of Biological Engineers


How Super Absorbent Polymers Work

classmates learn about super absorbent polymers

Facilitated by the Society of Women Engineers

Electromagnetism Principles

Facilitated by Tau Beta Pi

Making S’mores with Computers

Facilitated by the Association of Women in Computing

Light Reflection

Students will see how gelatin can be used to demonstrate total internal reflection of light between two mediums. Facilitated by Opticats

Catapults and Trebuchets!

Students will use springs and weights to launch projectiles at a variety of targets while learning how mechanical energy can be stored and rapidly released. Facilitated by Pi Tau Sigma


Students will build LEGOS houses, which will be evaluated according to a LEED score sheet, and get points based on designs that include sustainability. Facilitated by United States Green Building Council MSU Student Group