St. Olaf News

 

Physics and Engineering Camp receives grant from Pentair

Participants in St. Olaf College's Physics and Engineering Camp work on building a Rube Goldberg machine.

Participants in St. Olaf College’s Physics and Engineering Camp work on building a Rube Goldberg machine.

St. Olaf College’s Physics and Engineering Camp for Girls will be free to all 40 of this summer’s participants thanks to a $35,000 grant from the Pentair Corporation.

The Physics and Engineering Camp, designed to encourage young girls to pursue a career in science, is one of nine camps that St. Olaf offers in the summer for middle and high school students. Participants build a Rube Goldberg Machine, a complicated contraption that uses a number of whimsical, counterintuitive steps to accomplish a very simple task.

“In the past we have had students construct machines that make a bowl of cereal, deliver a gumball, or put toothpaste on a toothbrush,” says St. Olaf Associate Professor of Physics Jason Engbrecht, the faculty leader of the camp. “The program is very hands-on.”

Engbrecht has helped the St. Olaf Rube Goldberg team win the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest in both 2012 and 2009.

The Pentair Foundation, a division of Pentair, offers grants to programs that provide opportunities in STEM education. “Two key aspects of grant approval are opportunity and sustainability,” says Mark Lamps, vice president of global engineering and quality at Pentair Equipment Protection. “Education is a big piece of creating opportunity for people.”

Note that this year’s Physics and Engineering Camp is fully booked.