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Cornell Engineering hosts activities for Bring a Child To Work Day

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Children proudly display their Superpower shields

The campus has seen many visitors over the past few weeks, but there was something different about the visitors on Thursday, April 27. There is no way to say this politely: many of them were short.

That is because April 27 was Bring A Child To Work Day at Cornell. This annual event has become very popular, with hundreds of children coming to work over the past few years. In response, the university has organized a slate of activities for the visiting children and their accompanying adults.

Cornell Engineering offered two activities designed for children between the ages of 8 and 16. Staff of the Cornell Engineering Career Center planned an activity called “Discover Your Superpower” which proved to be very popular. The session was offered twice during the day and reached maximum enrollment both times. The other offering was also quite a draw. The Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (CUAUV) project team held an event called “Vehicles of the Future” and offered three sessions for children and their adults. 

Six members of the CUAUV team met with groups of visitors in their Phillips Hall team headquarters throughout the day. The children and their parents gathered around two autonomous underwater vehicles and heard from the team members about how they build their subs. They also watched a short video CUAUV created to publicize their work. And then the children and their parents got to ask questions about the subs and about the competition. 

Alicia Caswell of the Plant Pathology section in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has brought her son Dylan to Bring A Child To Work Day several times. As Dylan watched the CUAUV members talk about their subs, Caswell explained, “We have a race car at home and he is really interested in this kind of stuff.” Earlier in the day, Caswell and Dylan took part in a geocaching activity that led to hidden treasure—a box of candy. “He likes coming here with me,” said Caswell.

Over in Carpenter Hall, children heard from Cornell Engineering Career Center Director Christa Downey, Associate Director Kim Swartz, Associate Director Nadia Kiechle, Kessler Fellows Program Director Tracey Brant, Co-op Assistant Julie Wright, Front Desk Assistant Erin Philipson, and Career Peer Advisor Rui (Lily) Mei about their self-identified superpowers. The Career Center staff explained that a person’s superpower is something that they love to do and get very good at over time.

The children then had time in small groups to make a list of the things they love to do. Based on that list, they then answered the question, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” Their answers included, “I would be Bendygirl because I am flexible and I love gymnastics,” and “I would be The Naturalist because I love nature and I want to help people learn about it.” Each child created a shield to illustrate their own superpower. Laminated to the back of their shields was a reminder that these superpowers are best when they are used to make life better for people.

At the end of each superpower session, the children gathered for a group super-photo. The children and their adults left with smiles and, just possibly, the beginnings of a new sense of purpose. 


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