Elementary Engineering, an interactive science program started by high school student Matthew Hoge of Valencia, is available to visit local schools and teen groups, he said.
In 2015, Hoge, a senior at Bishop Alemany High School, founded the student-led organization that brings science experiments to underserved schools. The Elementary Engineering team facilitates an interactive presentation exploring different disciplines of engineering, followed by hands-on activities. These can be anything from the chemical processes of making ice cream to creating slime.
“I absolutely love this project,” says Hoge, “because not only does it address the problem with misallocated resources in school funding, but it inspires young students to be creative and explorative in the world of science.”
Hoge’s family have been involved in Eagle Scouts for almost a century, and he recently joined their ranks by revamping the storage facility for his school’s robotics team.
“My journey to Eagle Scout began when I was 10 years old,” he says. “Being in the Boy Scouts of America has taught me so many valuable life skills.”
But Hoge’s passion for community service began at age 13 – when he lost his mother to stage IV breast cancer. With his two younger siblings, he founded FightOn2EndCancer, an organization that raises funds for the USC Norris, a cancer research center.
“I started Elementary Engineering as an educational program,” he says. “It is a perfect combination of some of my interests: helping others, leadership, kids, and the sciences – especially engineering.”
When asked his goals for the innovative, long-term service effort, Hoge is very ambitious. “I hope to influence young students to pursue science or engineering career paths because is no doubt there is a high demand for science-oriented careers. We need talented, creative minds for the future, and that starts with Elementary Engineering.”
Hoge, co-founder Ralph Frem and assistant Daniel Medina research experiments and test their activities themselves before bringing Elementary Engineering to such local venues as St. Rose of Lima School and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Middle School.
A passion for robotics initially brought the trio together, and they share a goal of inspiring young minds to become the engineers of the future.
“I absolutely love science and everything to do with it,” says Frem. “One of the major things that provoked my passion for engineering are roller coasters. I love how they are built and the technical aspects of how it all comes together.”
After high school, Medina plans to blend his interests in soccer, fishing, travel, engineering and robotics. He is interested in continuing his studies in engineering and utilizing what he terms his “energetic, creative and adventurous ideas. At my core lies my desire to share my experiences, knowledge, and enthusiasm with others to motivate positive change in my community,” explains Medina.
Teachers and young scientists alike praise the Elementary Engineering team for their dedication, knowledge, altruism and passion in sharing their appreciation for science with the community.
Following a visit to his middle school, student Patrick H. had this to say about the program: “I liked the whole thing because it was a mix of education and fun.”
“I liked all of the detail that was put into each discipline of engineering in the presentation,” said Roque F.
“I liked making the ice cream in a completely different way,” said Michala L.
St. Rose of Lima School science coordinator Marcia Nogueira has been equally impressed. “As a future engineer, Matthew is very interested in sharing his enthusiasm for the sciences and robotics with elementary and middle school students,” she said. “In this capacity, I have been impressed with his dedication to inspiring young minds. He provides these classes to local elementary and middle schools as an act of service.”
Anne Rudzinski, a science and math teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Middle School, added, “Matthew has a great passion for science and math and wants to inspire younger students to have that same passion. He especially wants to assist students who may not be exposed to STEM activities.”
In April, Hoge received the coveted Certificate of Congressional Recognition for “outstanding volunteerism and community engagement” and “hard work and dedication to academics.”
A Top Ten Scholar, Hoge excels in a demanding academic load revolving around STEM, and hopes to become a mechanical or aerospace engineer. His other involvements include serving as vice president of his school’s Key Club, cabin leader for Outdoor School, and participation in Alemany Amigos, through which high-school students serve as big brothers and sisters for children who live in gang-prone areas.
Hoge has been selected to participate in USC’s highly selective Mission Engineering program this summer, a one-week intensive into the field.
To inquire about bringing Elementary Engineering to your school or group, or to start your own Elementary Engineering chapter, contact Matthew at (661) 373-4870 or matthew@ElementaryEngineering.org. There is no charge; however, donations for supplies are appreciated. Learn more at www.ElementaryEngineering.org.
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