In our Introduction to Engineering course (PLTW) we studied the evolution of products using the toothbrush as an example. Here’s an interesting update on that common object and how/why people still can innovate around it. A good example to prime the pump for identifying a problem to solve in our senior projects class.
There was an informative piece on NPR radio August 9 that addresses the challenge, Why Aren’t More Girls Attracted To Physics? A new study points to the crucial importance of local community role models—women in STEM fields–in influencing the choices younger women are making about STEM education and careers.
- Three years ago I obtained funding to offer an all-girls week long summer robotics camp. My vision was to eventually replace myself and the young men seving as mentors from our school’s robotics team with women teachers and female student mentors–female role models. This year it happened! We had an all female staff and some 40 middle school girls participate.
- My teaching partner in this is starting her own organization locally to expand this camp idea. My partner is a female middle school teacher who works in a high poverty school and has started LEGO Robotics and her all-girl MESA team made it to nationals this year!
It’s awkward: I always feel creepy when I attend school and community events with my students and try to recruit more girls for STEM programs at my school, “Hey little girl… ” eeeew!!). And it also sounds weird when I say “I’m looking for women… ” But I am! I am seeking women (see, doesn’t that seem awkward?) to serve as mentors for my pre-engineering and robotics classes at my school.
- Why Girls Are Not Attracted to Tech Careers (women2.com)
- Workin’ 9 to 5 (and the future of STEM) (ecogrrl.net)
- Susan Bulkeley Butler: NSF Nominee Dr. France Cordova a Role Model for Women in STEM (huffingtonpost.com)-g
- Underrepresentation in STEM Is an Economic Issue, Too (aauw.org)
Mechatronics integrates a number of technical disciplines to create “robots”-electro-mechanical machines/systems that perform work.
While engineers design these systems, it takes skillful technicians to operate, maintain and repair these “robots.” This link leads to one of the few community college programs in the country that offers a degree in Mechatronics. Locally Clark College has recently added mechatronics courses .
- Volkswagen Chattanooga Celebrates Inaugural Graduation of Automation Mechatronic Apprentices (sys-con.com)
- Free tuition and virtually guaranteed job placement could be in store for some two-year college students (al.com)
- Mechatronic Systems Technician Academy Celebrates First Graduating Class Aug. 15 (detroit.cbslocal.com)
“A 17-year-old girl from New Jersey invents an inexpensive and portable electrocardiogram that transmits data via cellular networks.”
Be sure to identify the problem being solved here. And watch the interviews. Inspirational!
Needs versus Wants and Planned Obsolescence:
Do you really need that upgrade? Do you really believe in green consumerism?
In 2007, Americans upgraded their phones every 18.7 months on average; three years later, that number had stretched to 21.1 months. In Finland (home to Nokia among other technology companies), people now wait 74.5 months to upgrade, compared with 41.8 months in 2007.
- Planned Obsolescence (undergrounddocumentaries.com) NOTE: “Planned Obsolescence” is a documentary made by Eva Vidal and Carla Casado, two sixteen-year-old International Baccalaureate students at Colegio Montserrat in Barcelona, Spain. This is a VERY WELL MADE and informative video ~20 minutes in length.
I push my students hard to develop the “soft skills” needed in today’s highly competitive global economy. Here’s a great article that underscores several of my classroom expectations:
- meet your deadlines
- pay attention to details and focus (yeah, I’m not perfect either)
- be open to the possibility…that it’s not all about you
- check out the others