Grand Junction Students Invent Toys, Teachers Learn About Electricity, Flight In CU-Boulder Western Slope Workshops

Published: June 7, 2004

Grand Junction children will learn how to create the toy of their dreams - including building a prototype, developing a marketing plan, and advertising it on the World Wide Web - during a creative engineering workshop brought to the Western Colorado Math and Science Center by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The "Kids Invent Toys" workshop, scheduled for June 14-18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is intended for girls and boys entering fourth, fifth and sixth grades. It is one of three pre-engineering workshops offered in Grand Junction this summer by the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program in CU-Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science.

The ITL Program also will bring CU-Boulder engineering faculty to Grand Junction to lead two professional development workshops for teachers July 6-7 and July 8-9 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first workshop, "Put a Spark in It!" will focus on electricity, and the second, "Up, Up and Away!" will focus on aerodynamics. Both workshops will encompass the presentation and practice of a multi-lesson, standards-based curriculum appropriate for use in the upper elementary grades.

All workshops will be held at the Western Colorado Math and Science Center, 2660 Unaweep Ave.

The Grand Junction workshops build on a partnership established last year between the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science and John McConnell, founder of the Western Colorado Math and Science Center. McConnell is a retired physicist and honored volunteer educator whose work in K-12 math and science education has been recognized with many awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado presented in May.

The ITL Program at CU-Boulder also is recognized for its work in K-12 pre-engineering education, having been named a "Program of Excellence" by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The ITL's workshops are based on lesson plans developed and tested in local classrooms by CU-Boulder engineering students and faculty, and are funded by National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education grants.

The lesson plans are being made available to K-12 teachers nationwide as part of an online digital library being developed by CU-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Duke University, Oregon State University and the American Society for Engineering Education. The library collection will be available in late 2004.

For more information visit or contact Janet Yowell, ITL Pre-Engineering Outreach Coordinator at or (303) 492-5230.