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grade students from local Philadelphia schools visited Penn’s Bioengineering Department this January. Students pulled apart spaghetti and measured its strength using a mechanical testing device, watched their muscles fire as they kicked their legs, participated in a lab on fluid mechanics and interacted with flying robots.

won the national organization’s Outreach Achievement Award.

Kush Mehta, an Engineering junior, and Ben Freedman, a 2014 Engineering graduate and current Engineering Ph.D. student, will travel to San Antonio, Texas, in two weeks to receive the award and present the club’s achievements.

program, which matches freshman bioengineering students with local seventh- and eighth- grade students to mentor them on their science fair projects, and a mentoring program.

something that [middle school students] have not had before,” Freedman said of the January event.

“Kids are really creative. They have a lot of untapped potential,” Freedman added. ”[I enjoy] being able to probe some of their curiosity and have them ask questions and brainstorm.”

Freedman said he has not heard of another engineering student group that runs a similar outreach program. “We’re all full-time in the lab and have everything else going on, so this is something that we do that is too much fun to pass up,” he added. “To have something completely student run is pretty unique and novel.”

commended the group’s initiative.

“I have not seen this much enthusiasm from our students in many years, and this particular set of students has really raised the bar for creating a community of scholars, giving back to the wider community, and having fun while they do it,” the letter read.

Plans for the next outreach day are in the works, as well as a new initiative: a design competition. The vision is that college bioengineering students, including those from other nearby universities, will help teams of middle school students through a several-month long bioengineering design project.

in their application for the outreach award.

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