In the spring, the UC Berkeley Girls in Engineering (GiE) program invited the Paper Mechatronics project to join their efforts to bring equitable engineering experiences to middle school-aged students. Through building a network of resources that included community partners, the Berkeley campus faculty, and neighborhood makers, the camp was transformed into a fully online format in 35 short days.
The five-week long camp program delivered online daily camp activities based on different engineering topics. It was directed by Anne Mayoral from UC Berkeley, with help from with help from Kelsey Derringer, an online learning specialist from CodeJoy, plus 4 program assistants and 17 high school-aged student volunteers. 111 middle school students simultaneously joined a daily Zoom room for all hands meetings and multiple online breakout rooms for small group work and facilitated conversations.
Sherry Hsi from the Paper Mech team supported one of the making “Fab Friday” days in the design and fabrication of a moveable paper mascot. We had cut the crank parts in advance and packaged them with other papercraft supplies into a kit, including white glue, cardboard washers, craft sticks, and painter’s tape. Family members picked up the supplies during a special distribution day before the camp started. During camp, they sketched their ideas, posted photos, and shared videos of their process on Padlet.
Students learned about parts of a crank (crank wheel, linkage, axle, and washers) using CodeJoy’s multiple camera set-up. During the process, they learned about mechatronics—a field of engineering that integrates electronics, mechanism design, and computer programming to support automation. Using a multi-camera set-up, we maintained eye contact with the students, establish online norms, and demonstrate how to disassemble and assemble the parts. Sherry shared her background and interest in engineering, introduced examples of mechatronics in every day machines, provided shared PDF resources with how-to instructions and links to online simulator FoldMecha to see how mechanisms moved. The day culminated in an online gallery with music and a mascot dance party.