What is an engineer? What does it mean to design? How do you build a robot? The students in my daughter’s kindergarten class can tell you! Derek and I visited her class last week to share our passion for engineering.

Discussing what engineers do with the class

We started with a discussion of what engineers do. Engineers design and build everything from towers and bridges to cars, phones, and computers. We showed the children some photos from The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers #AnEngineerWasHere campaign. These photos feature bright yellow tags reminding people that engineers are everywhere, in places you might not expect. We gave the children their own yellow tags and asked them to identify items around the classroom that might have been designed or manufactured using engineering. There were lots of giggles when one little girl stuck her tag on the toilet! Yes, even toilets and wastewater treatment are thanks to engineers.

An engineer was here


Derek and I shared our personal experiences in the engineering profession. We told the children about the various co-op work terms and job positions we’ve held over the years. We talked about the exciting projects we get to work on at Quanser, including robots. Then we invited the children to build a robot of their very own! Each child attached a small vibration motor and a coin cell battery onto the head of a toothbrush. Soon there was a swarm of little robot bugs scooting across the desks and floor to squeals of delight!

We enjoyed our kindergarten visit as much as the children did. It was fun talking with this enthusiastic group and hearing their dreams and ideas. We’ll be watching for some great inventions from this new generation of engineers!


Building a toothbrush robot
All images used in this post are from the archive of Heidi Wight

Do you want to build your own toothbrush robot? Here are the instructions. We used an Adafruit 1201 vibration motor with a 3V coin cell battery. Have fun discovering the engineer inside you!