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Fourth graders demonstrated basic engineering concepts to visitors from ASTM International

Fourth graders demonstrated basic engineering concepts to visitors from ASTM International
Library classroom with adults standing in background

Colonial Elementary School recently welcomed Tim Brooke, Leah Hepler, and Rich Wilhelm from ASTM International to see a lesson in the Innovation Lab in the school library. The company helped support the lab through the Colonial School District Education Foundation. 

To help explain ASTM International to the students, Colonial Elementary School (CES) Library Media Specialist Tyrone Freebairn shared a short video and then gave the fourth graders a set of “standards” and a goal: to build the highest tower they could using flat and folded index cards. 

girls making a tower using index cards

“We’re making card towers, because we want to learn about how to persevere, and, if it falls, just try again,” said CES fourth grader Braylen Burdey. “It’s important to learn perseverance, because you’ll have to do a lot of it when you grow up—like if you’re trying to make something and it’s not working, you have to persevere and never give up.”

The students worked in small groups and developed different strategies for building their towers, such as starting with a larger base. In addition to practicing perseverance, the students were using elements of the engineering design process—design, build, test, improve, repeat—to complete their towers.

Two boys smiling with their index card towers

“My favorite thing is that you get to use teamwork, you get to communicate with each other, and you get to learn about each other more,” said CES fourth grader Brooklyn Brewer. 

“I love their ingenuity, how they’re tackling the task, and their interest in building things to not have them fall down,” said ASTM International Controller Leah Hepler. “They could be the future engineers that become our future members.”

ASTM International began as the American Society for Testing and Materials in 1898 and established the standards for the steel used in train rails to keep them from breaking. Today, 12,000+ ASTM standards are used globally in a wide range of industries—including metals, construction, petroleum, consumer products, and more—to establish quality, reliability, safety, and consistency.

Class of students with Tim Brooke from ASTM and teacher Tyrone Freebairn

ASTM International's Tim Brooke (far left) with Library Media Specialist Tyrone Freebairn and a class of fourth grade students

“Our board members are engineers, and they have allowed us money in our budget to give back to our community,” said Ms. Hepler. “We’re a not-for-profit, but we give back to other not-for-profits with a lot of emphasis on STEM-related projects.”  

The organization donated $3,500 to the Colonial School District through the Colonial School District Education Foundation. The gift went toward an activity tower full of "manipulatives," a new chalkboard, and extending the Lego wall.

five adults one presenting a plaque

(left to right) CSDEF Co-president Jori Broad, ASTM International Vice President Laboratory Services & Certification/President of the Safety Equipment Institute Tim Brooke, ASTM International Controller Leah Hepler, Colonial Elementary Library Media Specialist Tyrone Freebairn, CSDEF Co-president Annette Swartz