Science classes at my school were dry…and if I am honest…quite dull. The formats for all my classes in middle school and high school were set in stone. Years and years of girls at my school had done the same thing every day in every class…girls entered the class, greeted the teacher, opened their notebooks, and wrote down every single, solitary word that the teacher said. There was no class discussion. No grade for class participation. Frankly, the teacher didn’t like interruptions of any kind. I can not recall a time when a girl asked the teacher a question. My science classes would have been so much more fun if the teacher had allowed us to ask questions and come up with reasons for why a reaction happened.
Much as I cherish my years at my schools in England, I’m relieved that my kids are having a VERY different educational experience to mine. My kids are encouraged to participate. Share their ideas. Make a guess. Their teachers want them to ask questions. Go out on a limb. Not be afraid to be wrong. Never more so than in science classes. I’m grateful that their teachers have created a learning environment where kids are not afraid to learn new things and be wrong.
My son and I spent some time this weekend with middle schoolers from across the country who are not afraid to questions. Solve problems. Work on solutions. They are budding scientists, engineers, city planners, ecologists, and environmental engineers. These kids were tasked with solving transportation issues in cities. My son and I stared in wonder as we looked at each group’s model city. These kids were tasked with solving transportation issues in their cities. Instead of taking a present day city, they imagined cities that were underwater or run entirely on hydroelectric power.
My son and I were invited to the Future City Engineering Competition in Washington, D.C. Future City allows 6th through 8th graders to solve a problem facing a city. Each year DiscoverE holds the Future City competition to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration, and volunteerism. DiscoverE supports a network of thousands of volunteers in its partner coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. For more information, you can visit www.discovere.org.
In addition to the Future City Competition, DiscoverE is a year-round engineering resource. Teachers and parents can use DiscoverE to find fun introductory engineering activities and videos, compelling information about engineering educational options and careers, field trip ideas, and more. DiscoverE is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and thousands of volunteers who work with schools and community groups to help people understand the critical role of engineering in our lives. For interesting content and activities, visit . And coincidentally these young engineers participated during Engineer’s Week, which runs from February 16-22, 2014.
Maybe your kids are like mine. Mine know that their grandfather is an engineer, but don’t exactly know what an engineer does. DiscoverE is in the business of teaching kids all about why engineering is so important. Engineers are changing the world all of the time. Like the middle schooler, I saw yesterday, engineers dream up creative and practical solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. Students start who choose engineering as a profession gain the technical expertise to make a difference in the world. Engineers work in every field from medicine, to law, to business, to manufacturing, to agriculture, and more. Future City gets kids involved in project-based learning at home or in school as a gateway to learning how engineering makes a difference in people’s lives.
What I LOVED about Future City was how many girls were there representing their states and regions at Future City. One team was from a Girl Scout troop. There were several all girls teams. Most of the teams had at least one girl. I have seen girls thrive on doing projects. Many of these girls will choose engineering as a career choice. The Future City Competition gives girls, and boys, an opportunity to use engineering techniques to solve real world problems. You can celebrate girls on DiscoverE Girl Day coming up on February 20, 2014,
Join @DisoverEOrg on Twitter for a #GirlDay2014 #STEMchat on February 19 at 9 PM Eastern to introduce girls to engineering.
For more on DiscoverE:
- Like DiscoverE on Facebook.
- Visit FutureCity.org to find out more about the Future City Competition.
- Like Future City Competition on Facebook.