Best Costume Ever: Be An Engineer For Halloween

Choosing what to be for Halloween can be tough, but it can be a lot of fun to emulate a potential future career as well!

Help your budding engineer surprise their class or the entire neighborhood with his/her engineering-focused costume! 

Follow our question map to decide what is the best type of engineer to be, and follow our instructions on putting together the perfect engineering costume!

Keep those engineering dreams alive by helping your child feel like an engineer!

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5 Ways To Get Your Student Thinking Like An Engineer

Ever wanted to provide your child with the opportunity to do more critical thinking, problem solving, and mathematics throughout their normal life? Take a look at our 5 tips for getting your student to think more like an engineer!

GET HANDS ON

So, this one is rather obvious, but it must be mentioned for two reasons. Firstly, hands-on activities are a great way to engage young engineers in listening and learning about STEM. It keeps them interested and engaged, and it relates back to an engineering career. Secondly, it gets them thinking creatively about what is in their hands.

In addition, it is important for the hands-on activity to be done in the context of education. Hands-on tinkering is not as easy to retain if there is no reasoning or purpose behind it. Go to a museum and take advantage of the hands-on activities that are surrounded by connections and descriptions on why that activity relates to the world (example would be a plasma globe to learn about the basics of electricity such as currents and a ground).

Encourage your child to tinker with things at home. Buy an old radio from a garage sale and take it apart. Ask them for help when you are assembling a new toy, some furniture from Ikea or a new purchase from Amazon. Get them involved when the toilet breaks or the sink is leaking. Understanding how things come apart and the different options for putting them back together can broaden a young engineer’s mind. In addition, challenging them to do things outside of their day to day lessons can boost their confidence. And I’m sure you would love the help!

DAILY INQUIRY

Inquire after how your child’s mind works. Ask them how they think your telephone works. Ask them how clean water is able to run into our homes. Ask them how the Brita is able to make water cleaner than it already was. Point out things in your hometown or community that relate to engineering, and get their opinion on it. Bridges, tugboats, farming equipment, or motorcycles are all good examples. Take the time to pull the car over, stop for a second, and take a look. Have a discussion about the challenges that some engineer must have encountered in creating these day to day solutions that have become totally normal for us. It is incredibly effective to get students to start to make the connection between their daily lives and the concepts they are learning when we point them out and discuss them on a regular basis.

PARTICIPATION IN DAILY CALCULATIONS

Engineering is all about calculation. From balancing chemical equations to completing a detailed statistical analysis, a math mentality is always a skill set that is valued. So, start asking your child to participate in your daily calculations. Ask them to calculate the tip when you go out to dinner. Ask them to figure out the change needed for the toll plaza that is coming up on the highway. Challenge them to add up what your buying on your grocery trip and make a game of guessing how much the bill will be (don’t forget tax!). Thinking in numbers is a necessity as an engineer, so let’s get our students thinking about numbers in our daily chores and activities.

VOLUNTEER

Engineering is not only about STEM, but it’s about giving back to your community and working as a team. The best engineers are considered the best because they gave their knowledge, expertise, and experience back to the world. So, it is important for us to show our budding engineers the value in giving back. For an engineering-focused volunteer opportunity, I always recommend Habitat for Humanity. It exists in communities all over the country, it attracts engineering-minded people with skill sets that pertain to construction, and it is fun! Call your local organization to let them know you have young children that may be interested, but they usually have activities that can apply for all age levels.

KEEP UP WITH IT

In our current world, change is happening around every corner. Take time with your child to keep up with the engineering innovations that are adding value and changing lives for the better. Below are a few engineering news resources for you and your family to utilize to stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in industries such as healthcare, construction, and energy. The engineering that we know will not be the engineering our children know, so we need to support them to always be looking to the future while still appreciating the lessons we have learned in our past.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/news/matter_energy/engineering/
http://www.enr.com/
http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/

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How To Create A Maker's Space In Your Community

Maker's spaces are all the rage. They give our youth a place to learn and explore while also forming a sense of community. Below are a couple quick tips on how to get one started in your local community!

What Is The Best Location?

Put it in a library. Libraries are changing in how they serve our communities and our schools. Libraries are a great location to build a space for innovation and creativity. Make sure you have a large open space. Tables and chairs are not necessary but can be added depending on the users of the space. Ideally, it would be great to have multiple computers within reach of your space which is another reason why a library is a great place to build your maker’s space.

What Do I Need?

Start simple! Take donations of tech or machinery that is no longer being used by members of the community. Ask parents or local companies to donate old tools and equipment. There is no donation that is too small to add value to your new space. Even non-traditional items such as sewing machines, VCRs, or lights can add value. You don’t need to have a brand new 3D printer to give students a space to be creative and to think outside of the box.

How Should I Regulate It?

The best thing about a maker’s space is that it can be whatever you want it to be. And even ocne you figure that out, it can take on a life of it’s own once it has started and can become bigger and better than you ever imagined. Growin’GEERS recommends limiting the rules at the beginning. Make it a place where students can come and create their own solutions and ideas. Make it a place where our young innovators can bring their act on their imagination.

If you feel you want to have a goal or a theme, add a white board with a weekly challenge for students to try and accomplish before the end of the week. Ask them to create a solution that can move something a certain distance. Start simple and make the challenges more complex as your students become more comfortable with working in the space!

How Do I Explain It To Others?

Introduce it to students as a place to be innovative. Encourage them to get their feet wet in engineering, and invite them to research concepts that they want to learn about and use this space to explore them with the materials they have. The best way to explain it to other parents is as a safe space for students to educate and challenge themselves outside of their traditional lessons. It is a new twist on education, and it is a great way to put our students in charge of what they create and what they learn when they spend time in this space. Over time, the results of what comes out of your maker’s space will speak for itself.

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WINNER OF ONE SPARK 2015 JURIED AWARD FOR EDUCATION

Growin'GEERS was voted the winner of One Spark 2015 in the Education Category. The Growin'GEERS team spent the week sharing its curriculum with the Jacksonville community. We are so happy to revisit this amazing time for the company and how this award helped us to increase the number of quests we had available to better serve our customers! Check out additional details in an article featured by News4Jax below.

Thanks again One Spark!

 

THE SCIENCE BEHIND REDESIGNING FOOTBALL HELMETS

Football season is upon us, and it is an exciting time for all the fans, Fantasy Football experts, and players. While football is an exciting sport to watch, it can be dangerous for the players due to the large amount of body to body and head to head contact that the game is known for. 

The NFL and other football organizations have been making an effort to make the game safer. The design of new football helmets to decrease the damage done to a player’s brain is due to the hard work of mechanical engineers.

When a player hits another player, the kinetic energy needs to transfer from one player to another. If all that energy is directed at the helmet, the helmet is taking on that kinetic energy and passing it through to the next surface: the skull. The skull is then passing it on to the brain which in turn may cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull causing damage.

Bike helmets are traditionally designed a little differently to crush or break which takes on some of the kinetic energy.

Read more about how they are adjusting the football helmets below!

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THINGS LOOK DIFFERENT AROUND HERE!

Beginnings. They are exciting, slightly unnerving, and refreshing. So, welcome to the beginning of the Growin'GEERS blog! To keep track of a journey such as this can be a challenge, so hopefully this blog will serve not only as a reminder for where we have been but also as a peek behind the curtain for what Growin'GEERS is all about. We will discuss not only our journey, but stories about STEM across the country, our advocates, and of course, our amazing GEERlings. Because without our budding engineers, we are nothing!

For this first post, I decided to give a little background on how Growin'GEERS came to be and what started this incredible roller coaster ride that I hope will never roll into the station.
Since I was a kid, I have always been drawn to problem solving. Now, problem solving comes in all shapes and sizes, but I was particularly drawn to problems affecting people. So, by talking with some engineers and Pitt professors (thanks Dad!), I pursued a degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Any time I am discussing my major with someone who is not aware of what Industrial Engineers do, I always hear "Wow, I wish I had known about that major in school". Thankfully, for me, my dad was there to point me in the appropriate direction.

After about a year of working full time, I decided to pursue my other passion, and I volunteered to work with a group of students in North Philadelphia for a problem solving competition. During my volunteer hours there, I learned that these students had a massive interest in engineering when I talked about my job and what I did on a day to day basis but had an aversion to the math and science topics they were learning in school. My biggest takeaway from that experience was that they did not understand how the concepts they were learning were actually applicable in the real world. They did not understand how scientists or engineers could possibly use the concepts they were learning to help people or solve problems.

From that experience, Growin'GEERS was born. The goal of Growin'GEERS is to empower and enlighten elementary students to see the potential that STEM concepts have in the real world. By starting our journey with a focus on this age group, we are working to encourage their interest in these topics before they decide that they are too hard or irrelevant in reaching their goals.
Growin'GEERS is working to paint an accurate picture of an engineer for the next generation. This picture includes a love for STEM, the ability to communicate, a knack for thinking outside of the box, and the courage to fail. We want students to dream of being engineers and to understand the impact they can have by working towards adding to their STEM toolbox. By showing students the vast array of options available to them within the engineering field, we plan to decrease the number of students who get to middle school or high school without knowing what an engineer does.

So, join us on our journey to inspire the next generation of innovators, thought leaders, and engineers, or as we tend to say, elementary engineering dreamers.

Keep those gears moving,
Alex