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Engineering 360°

Building curiosity at WVU nursery school

Josh Bintrim helps several children build castles out of blocks

Joshua Bintrim, an industrial engineering major from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, has been introducing children to basic engineering principles through fun, hands-on activities while volunteering at the Nursery School at WVU. He began visiting the Nursery School in August as part of his capstone course, which requires him to complete two hours of volunteering per week. 

While it was unconventional, Bintrim knew that volunteering at the School would allow him to spread awareness about engineering while also gaining some much-needed hands-on experience with children.

“My wife and I are expecting our first child in March,” said Bintrim. “I thought volunteering at the School would be a great way to share some of the knowledge I’ve learned about engineering while also gaining some wisdom on the ways of small children in the process.”

Bintrim visits the School every Friday and is tasked with teaching three- and four-year olds how to build basic structures. He uses foam blocks, Legos and Lincoln Logs to get the children thinking about how small pieces can fit together to build something much larger.

“While what can be built with these blocks is limited, the children’s imaginations fill in the gaps,” said Bintrim. “We have built pirate ships, space ships, motorcycles, dinosaurs, carriages and a few other crazy things. They really enjoy adding their own little flare to what we are building.” 

Nursery School Director Barbara Warash said that Bintrim’s visits have become a highlight of the children’s week and hopes that more engineering students will follow is his footsteps. 

“The children ask each day ‘Is it a Josh day?’” said Warash. “Having Joshua at the Nursery School is wonderful. He is a great role model in the early childhood field of mostly female teachers. Our students are lucky to experiencing the dynamics of creating buildings and structures as well as the rich interactions with Joshua.”