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UWindsor Engineering Saturdays

The University of Windsor Faculty of Engineering Outreach Team invites elementary school students to learn more about engineering while taking part in hands-on activities through its new virtual UWindsor Engineering Saturdays series.

Students can use a computer to join the FREE virtual sessions from anywhere by signing into the University of Windsor’s Engineering Outreach Virtual Classroom Blackboard site. This is the official platform used by the University of Windsor for online learning.  

A guest link will be provided to those who register and will only work for the direct recipients of the email. If internet connection or power during the session is lost, participants can reconnect using the same direct recipient emailed guest link as before.

All information, including a reminder to submit parental permission forms, the materials list, and how to access our Virtual Classroom site, will be emailed to registrants in a reminder email approximately one week before the event.


  • We're sorry! All sessions are now full. Future sessions in this series will be announced shortly. 
  • For all events, participants will need to have their own supplies to complete the activities. Supplies include common household items readily found around the home that can also be purchased at a minimal cost. A supply list for each activity will be provided to registrants in advance. Please have all supplies ready at the beginning of each session. 

Building a Cardboard Robotic Arm - Grades 3 to 7
10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 

In this activity, participants will build a cardboard robotic arm that is activated by pulling on strings. Your design will be able to pick up small items off the ground with a hook attached to the end. From assembling car parts to the Canadian Space Agency’s Canadarm on the space shuttle, robotic arms are used in a variety of ways to perform complex and human-like tasks in many applications around the world.   

Materials Needed

  • Corrugated cardboard (e.g., such as old Amazon boxes you may have or other similar cardboard; can also be purchased at Dollarama)  
  • Masking tape OR duct tape   
  • String OR fishing line (the fishing line may provide stronger support for the parts in their designs)  
  • Large straws   
  • Paper clips (have extra in case they are needed)  
  • 1/4 inch Dowel OR BBQ Skewers OR Paper Fasteners   
  • Scissors   
  • Hole punch (as an alternative, parents/guardians can help when this is needed by using a similar object to put the holes through the cardboard)           

Parental Permission Form

Building an Extended Grabber - Grades 3 to 7
10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 

In this activity, you will be building your own extendable grabbing tool using common household materials to lift and move cups off the ground. You will learn mechanical engineering principles by creating a basic machine; the machine design uses levers to transfer an applied force to pick up an object. Participants will be challenged to see how many cups they can move with their “grabber” within one minute.  

Materials Needed

  • clear tape  
  • scissors  
  • 8 popsicle sticks (8 is the minimum but have extra in case they are needed)  
  • 2 milkshake straws (2 is the minimum but have extra in case they are needed)  
  • 2 BBQ skewers (2 is the minimum but have extra in case they are needed)  
  • 2 rubber bands (2 is the minimum but have extra in case they are needed)  
  • 10 small lightweight cups for testing (styrofoam paper cups are preferred)  
  • 30 cm ruler or a measuring tape to measure 30 cm on the surface that will be used for testing (you can mark the ends with tape) 

Parental Permission Form

The Battle of the Beams - Grades 3 to 7
10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 

The Battle of the Beams activity will teach participants about mechanical and materials engineering, allowing them to explore the concepts of composites and material strengths. They will use playdough and common household items to create a beam battle to determine the weakest and strongest composite materials that can hold weight. Following the activity, participants will show their creations and to help the group determine the strongest materials.  

Materials Needed

  • Three 4oz containers of playdough or your own homemade playdough that you already made (*Can be purchased, but if you would like to make your own for this activity, here is a link to do so using simple ingredients:
  • One ice cube tray that makes long ice  *If you cannot find an ice cube tray you can substitute with regular tin foil* 
  • 2 tall boxes or hardcover textbooks of the same height, or similar items to be used for testing
  • Face mask for holding the rocks during testing
  • String 
  • Cardboard 
  • 20 rocks that are around the same size and weight o rocks are the recommended material for this activity; however, if you can not get some, anything that is similar in size to rocks can be used 
  • Ruler or measuring tape 
  • Scissors 
  • Kitchen scale (optional) 

Choose 4 items to add to the playdough. Some examples of items to add for your composite materials are: 

  • Rice  
  • Spaghetti noodles  
  • Penne noodles  
  • Macaroni noodles 
  • Any other noodles  
  • Nerds candies  
  • Crackers 
  • Cereal
  • You only need to choose 4 of the above materials, or any other material that you wish to add to the molds, as long as it is very small and will fit within the long ice cube tray or molds.

Parental Permission Form

Itinerary for each Session

15-20 minutes: Introduction. Parents/guardians are recommended to attend for the first 5-10 minutes for introductions and to be aware of what the activities will be. Participants will then be assigned into smaller groups with each group being led by one of our UWindsor Engineering Mentors.  

1 hour: After instructions are given, participants will be able to build their designs on their own. They don’t have to remain on the computer in the Virtual Classroom while they are doing their activity, but must remain logged in. They are welcome to come back to the Virtual Classroom at any time and ask their UWindsor Engineering Mentor for any help, advice or tips or if they have any questions. The features of the Virtual Classroom will be explained in the introductions.  

45 minutes: Everyone will return to the Virtual Classroom and we will have a show and tell, where all participants will be able to show their activity and explain what they have done. At the conclusion, we will also have a draw and choose three names for UWindsor Engineering Prizes that will be mailed out. Information for those to receive prizes from the draw will be sent to the parent/guardian's email that was used for registration. 


Mike Konstantino
Engineering Outreach Coordinator