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Engineering students create hands-on science exhibits

<p>AO Discover! is located at 1199 South Donahue Dr.</p>

AO Discover! is located at 1199 South Donahue Dr.

Students in Auburn University’s Department of Biosystems Engineering are giving back to the local community by designing and constructing exhibits for AO Discover!, a nonprofit based in Auburn.

Students enrolled in the Introduction to Biosystems Engineering class at the University are creating music exploration exhibits to be displayed by the local nonprofit.

According to Brendan Higgins, assistant professor of biosystems engineering, the students are making PVC instruments that will let children in the Auburn community have more hands-on sensory experiences.

“These instruments will allow children to explore the relationship between pipe length and tone…or just play songs for fun,” Higgins said.

The class is divided into four teams that work together to design their own creations within the constraints given. 

“Each team was given the same set of criteria and constraints for the project,” Higgins said. “This encompasses what the instrument should be able to do, be safe for children and fall within a specified budget. Within those constraints, each group is free to develop their own design – so our class will be presenting four unique designs to AO Discover! next week.”

AO Discover! is establishing a hands-on science center for children on the corner of South College Street and Donahue Drive.

“AO Discover! is a non-profit foundation located here in Auburn dedicated to STEM education and lifelong learning,” he said.

The project allows students to gain experience giving back to the community and gives AO Discover! the ability to display exhibits for a low cost which is vital for them to keep serving the public.

“Our students get to design something for a real client with real impact in our community,” Higgins said. “Seeing children interacting with something you designed and built is a real privilege.”

Higgins said he was inspired to get the biosystems engineering department involved in AO Discover!’s mission from Katie Murrah, director of AO Discover!. Higgins reached out to Murrah after his son went to the Auburn Day School that she operates and saw the mutual benefit that a collaboration could result in.

“[S]eeing AO Discover! take off will have tangible benefits to my family as well as many other families in the East Alabama region,” Higgins said.

To mark the end of the semester and the culmination of the project for each of the student teams, those in Introduction to Biosystems Engineering will be presenting their instrument projects to AO Discover!’s board of directors on Thursday, April 22.

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