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Rediscovering Discovery Days

By: Brooke Fisher
Photos: Mark Stone/University of Washington and Matt Hagen
Top image: It’s all smiles at the “Electrochemical Engi-earring” exhibit, as engineering students demonstrate how to use electrochemistry to turn dull titanium metal into colorful earrings that attendees can take home.

Returning this spring, Engineering Discovery Days continued the tradition of sharing the excitement of engineering with youth.

From viewing a glowing pickle to “walking” on water to touring the SPACE Lab, it’s easy to see why registration filled up in minutes — six, to be exact — for Engineering Discovery Days 2024
With more than 115 exhibits to explore, elementary and middle school students visited campus once again for the College of Engineering’s signature outreach event. Held annually for more than 100 years prior to the pandemic, the free two-day event relaunched May 2-3 after a few years’ hiatus.

Left: The popular “Walk on Water” exhibit provides youth with hands-on (or feet-on?) fun while learning about the mysteries of non-Newtonian fluid behavior. Top-right: Getting a feel for oobleck, the mixture used in the exhibit. Made from cornstarch and water, it feels like a liquid until pressure is applied. Bottom-right: Professor Zachary Sherman uses a cement mixer to maintain the right consistency of oobleck. During the two-day event, more than 500 pounds of cornstarch was used.

This year, more than 7,400 elementary and middle school students, accompanied by teachers and parents, participated in a variety of hands-on activities and experiments led by engineering students and faculty across all disciplines. Attractions also included making ice cream, creating colorful earrings from titanium metal, building a mini edible bridge, and seeing demonstrations of drones, robots, cars, trucks and aircraft.

“Sometimes people think of engineers as people with a pen, paper and calculator. But that’s not engineers. Engineers are out in the world building things. We also get to destroy things and rebuild them and do it again. What’s not to like about that?” says Nancy Allbritton, Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering. 

Discovery Days is part of the College’s effort to prepare K-12 students for success in STEM. In addition to participating in activities, youth, parents and teachers get an opportunity to meet engineering faculty, staff and students.

Until next year!

Whether you'd like to return for more hands-on fun, or are interested in participating for the very first-time, we hope you'll join us for Engineering Discovery Days 2025.

Registration is anticipated to open in January 2025.