Karrer Middle School students found a new use for newsprint last week.
Seventh-graders at the school tested the strength of the printed word and their own brainpower to build newspaper towers for an engineering activity.
Two members of the Ohio State University's Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering society visited the school with Kimberly Clavin, Dublin City Schools' STEM initiatives manager, last week to give students an idea of engineering's reach.
"There's nothing better than a hands-on experience," said Kathy Albert, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Karrer.
Albert and seventh-grade math teacher Katherine O'Neal welcomed the engineering students into their classrooms, with Karrer students getting a 40-minute civil engineering lesson and spending another 40 minutes learning about mechanical engineering.
To focus on civil engineering, OSU senior Mariah Yaufman and OSU graduate student Nathan Yencho gave students a challenge: Build the tallest tower you can.
Materials were limited, however, to newspaper, rubber bands, a foot of tape, Popsicle sticks and string.
After students got some time to start on their newspaper towers, Yaufman threw them a new challenge.
"Your boss called and said Popsicle sticks are too expensive," she told the class. "You can't use them anymore."
Later in the exercise, rubber bands were also taken out of the building equation.
"You can only use certain materials, like in the real world," Yencho said.
The real world was one of the main focuses of the lessons.
"It's really good coming here," Yencho said. "Some kids don't know what civil engineering is."
"I didn't know," Yaufman agreed, adding she got into the field because she liked math and science.
In O'Neal's classroom, Clavin was talking to students about pogo sticks and how they work, touching on the different designs and processes engineers use to test different products.
"There's a big push for more engineers," OSU graduate Michael Neal said while helping Clavin with her lessons.
"Being introduced to engineering like this is a big thing," he said. "I was always interested in this, but I didn't know how to pick the best path."
Although Karrer's students are a few years off from choosing a college major, O'Neal said seeing math and science applied in real life situations is valuable.
"In my eyes, a lesson like this is invaluable," she said.
"The kids see what they're learning is applicable in real life. We're taking math and science and bringing it down to their level and their interests."
Many students will have jobs that have yet to be invented, O'Neal said. Giving them lessons in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math might give them a little help in the future.
"I was a MathCounts coach and they've been talking about this at Columbus State for years," O'Neal said.
"It's nice to see it finally coming to Dublin City Schools. It's exciting."