What myth about STEM would you want changed? On The Maker Mom, I try to bust the myth that parents think they need to buy pricey tech toys and gadgets in order to for their kids to learn about STEM. In reality, a kid can learn about engineering by making paper bridges or building towers out of straws and tape. There are loads of simple science experiments that can be done with simple ingredients most folks already have in their kitchens (not to mention baking, which can be a great study in chemistry). Spending time in nature can provide opportunities to build basic math concepts such as numbers and patterns, boost observation skills, and inspire that sense of wonder that I think it key. Even a walk around the block can inspire lots of questions about the world. Modern technology has its place, but having real-world experiences, is so important, especially for young kids.
Who is your STEM inspiration? I meet so many interesting people through my blog, it's hard to say. Generally speaking, I'm inspired by the many teachers and librarians working hard to provide innovative STEM programming for kids despite tight budgets and other constraints. I admire a few women I've had the chance to work with recently including Liz Heinecke from the Kitchen Pantry Scientist, Joanne Manaster of Read Science, Laura Overdeck of Bedtime Math, and Stephani Page founder of the Twitter hashtag #BlackAndSTEM.
What's a fun fact about you that surprises most people. I was once a dolphin trainer. I spent a summer as an intern at the well-regarded, but now defunct, Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Lab doing cognition research with dolphins.
ANNMARIE THOMAS, Associate Professor Univ. of St. Thomas School of Engineering; Founding Executive Director of the Maker Education Initiative; author, “Making Makers: Kids, Tools and the Future of Innovation.”
Why does STEM speak to you? Honestly, I have never liked the acronym STEM, as to me all learning is related and we should see it as a holistic endeavor involving all fields. STEM, and art and literacy and history, are all tools and building blocks that allow us to create new innovations and help others. It is empowering!
What myth about STEM would you want changed? That it isn't creative!
What is your favorite STEM read? That's hard! I always have a stack of 10+ books on my nightstand, and most could be categorized as STEM. Many have to do with sustainability and product design. One book, on how computers work, that I would recommend highly is Danny Hillis' "The Pattern On The Stone: The Simple Ideas That Make Computers Work."
Who is your STEM inspiration? Pamela Nix and Keith Buckingham, my high school Chemistry and Physics teachers. They showed me that it's possible/fun to combine the arts and the sciences.
How did you become interested in STEM? I have always been interested in making things- out of cardboard, out of fabric, then out of electronics.
Tell us a fun fact about you that surprises most people. I love circus arts, and take trapeze lessons multiple times a week!
DAVID LOCKETT, 6th grade teacher from Tennessee; founder @campSTEM.
What is your favorite STEM read? My favorite STEM read would be “The Martian” by Andy Weir. It presents a harrowing tale where astronaut Mark Watney steadfastly confronts seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Drawing on his ingenuity, engineering skills, and verbal communication skills to survive.
Who is your STEM inspiration? Seeing my work impact a student's life, no matter how small or big the action. I know my thoughts can transform to make lives better and help move society forward to a brighter future.
How did you become interested in STEM? I became interested in STEM in high school, because of a physics teacher and biology teacher, who saw my potential and went out of their way to find challenging labs and scientific problems for me, etc. to keep me interested.
What's a fun fact about you that surprises most people. I witnessed the NASA Orion launch. This spacecraft test was built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. It was designed to help deliver humans to deep space destinations like Mars someday.
Supporting education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is important to building a competitive workforce and fostering innovation. In our facility communities across the country, we support educational programs that encourage entrepreneurship, project-based learning and real-world thinking.