Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

Some schools are taking the current push for STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math) a step further and putting kids on project teams with students from around the world. While you are learning science, you are getting to know what life is like somewhere else.

Dugan Arnett writes at the Boston Globe, “In just a few weeks’ time, the students in Kathy Wright’s Richard J. Murphy K-8 School STEM class have developed a keen grasp of Costa Rican culture.

“ ‘They don’t get snow there,’ said Jayd’n Washington, a 12-year-old seventh grader at the Dorchester school. Added fellow 12-year-old Fabian Riascos, ‘They have their own currency.’

“Their burgeoning interest in the Central American country stems not from a recent geography lesson plan — it’s the result, instead, of a program called Design Squad Global, which pairs American middle-school classes with students from other countries in a kind of virtual pen-pal relationship.

“Created by WGBH Boston as a spinoff of the old PBS television series ‘Design Squad,’ the program serves, at its core, as a way to introduce young students across the globe to the importance of engineering-related projects.

“But another goal — and one that organizers seem to value as much as anything — is the program’s ability to connect children from various locations, backgrounds, and cultures. …

“The DSG program connects kids ages 10-13. Currently, it operates in 25 American cities — including Boston, Chicago, and New York — and eight countries, from Brazil to Jordan to South Africa.

“At the start of the program, which can run either six or 12 weeks, two classes from different countries are paired together. In online correspondence, they tick off their names, nicknames, and interests — and as they tackle a collection of weekly projects, a virtual relationship blossoms. …

“The focus is on real-world problem-solving. Participants are charged with designing and constructing scaled-down versions of a number of projects: a structure that can withstand an earthquake, an emergency shelter, an adaptive device for someone with disabilities.

“ ‘Middle school kids can come up with some amazing solutions,’ said Mary Haggerty, who oversees educational outreach at WGBH. ‘It makes you feel very hopeful for the future.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff
Jhondell Smith-Young tested his STEM project for a Dorchester class that assigns him to an international team.

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Gregg tweeted recently about Robinson Meyer’s Atlantic article on 92-year-old metallurgist Ursula Franklin.

Meyer writes, “It’s hard to describe what Ursula Franklin’s done in her life. There’s just too much.

“The 92-year-old metallurgist pioneered the field of archeometry, the science of dating archaeologically discovered bronzes, metals, and ceramics. Her research into spiking levels of radioactive strontium in baby teeth factored heavily into the U.S. government’s decision to institute a nuclear test ban.

“She delivered the Massey Lectures—an important, annual series of talks delivered by Canadian public intellectuals—in 1989, and she was the first woman to be named University Professor at the University of Toronto, the university’s highest position.

“She was also born in Munich in 1921, and was imprisoned in a Nazi work camp for the last 18 months of the war.”

Meyers’s questions cover much of Franklin’s life, her pacifism, and her trail-blazing for women scientists. It’s a long interview. Here’s a taste.

“Once you were at the University of Toronto … did you see the university change over your time there, and just generally what was it like to be a female professor of engineering during the ’70s and ’80s?”

Franklin answers, “Well, pretty lonely. You know the real difficulty is to protect and advance your women students, and to see that they are in a hassle-free learning environment. When I came to the university, I’d been around long enough to know that I wasn’t one of the gang, and I never would be. I didn’t have a desire to be one of the boys.

“But the great wish—to give my women students a hassle-free, happy learning environment—that’s what’s difficult. The culture of engineering is not a culture of acceptance and understanding of anything that is female and—at the same time—equal. So that’s… that’s a real job. It was a long and hard [work] in this, and it’s by no means yet all done.”

I remember the fuss over strontium 90 in milk. How great to read about this woman ‘s role in uncovering the problem and to see that she is going strong at 92. More at the Atlantic.

Ursula Franklin  photo

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Boston and Baltimore have created cool places to learn and practice engineering and craft skills.

At Technical.ly (better cites through technology), Andrew Zaleski describes how the Baltimore Foundery [sic], “a campus for makers,” was inspired by Artisan’s Space in the Boston area.

“It was by chance that Andrew Stroup and Corey Fleischer, two [Baltimore] locals-turned-contestants on a new engineering-focused Discovery Channel TV show, met Jason Hardebeck, the executive director of gb.tc.

“But despite having only met earlier this year, the three had more in common than they knew: each thought it was high time Baltimore city had its own makerspace — a large, indoor area replete with machine tools, digital tools like 3D printers and equipment for woodworking and metalworking — on par with similar spaces in other cities in the U.S.

“Through their time on the show, Stroup and Fleischer met Gui Cavalcanti, who started the Artisan’s Asylum makerspace in Boston, a sprawling, 40,000-square-foot complex where members renting space brew their own beer, construct their own bikes and sculpt pieces of art from metal. After spending a weekend there in mid-January, the two were convinced they needed to find a place within Baltimore where any resident could do the same type of work.

“ ‘Baltimore has everything that we saw at Artisan’s Asylum: the level of artists, engineers, hobbyists,’ said Fleischer, 31, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from UMBC, and now works at Lockheed Martin in Middle River. ‘Baltimore has those people, and Baltimore does not have a space like that where everyone can go.’ …

“Whereas few people in Baltimore have the resources to become ‘coders and programmers,’ Hardebeck said, people ‘can understand how to become CNC machine operators.’

“In effect, that’s the grandest wish Hardebeck — a former product manager at DeWALT — harbors for the new makerspace: a place that can foster the next generation of blue-collar workers in Baltimore city by offering a community workshop so people can have access to good equipment and classes. In turn, people can become entrepreneurs building products in their own small-scale manufacturing facility, albeit one they share with other makers.”


Photo: Technical.lyFleischer leads a class in Introductory Welding last month.

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