About 2 weeks ago, the President gave a speech about a new program called “Educate to Innovate.” The program aims to improve education in the categories of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM. At the end of his speech, students from Oakton High School demonstrate their “Cougar Cannon,” a robot designed to scoop up and throw “moon rocks.” A video of the speech, and the demonstration, is below.
“As President, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering. And I also want to keep an eye on those robots in case they try anything.”
As a lover of technology, I find it wonderful that the president is moving in this direction. I wrote, not too long ago, about my disappointment with our current educational system. When I was in school, there were always extra subjects we could engage in to expand our knowledge. In fact, the high school I attended was set up similar to that of a college, requiring that a number of extra credits, beyond the core classes, be taken. Often these were foreign languages or some form of a shop class. Fortunately, for me, the school also offered classes in programming and electronics.
I was invited back to the school by my former electronics teacher a few years after I graduated. The electronics program had expanded somewhat and they were involved in a program called FIRST Robotics, developed by Dean Kamen. Unfortunately, I had moved out of the area, so my involvement was extremely limited, but I did enjoy working with the students. The FIRST program is an excellent way to engage competitiveness along with education. Adults get to assist the students with the building and programming of the robot, guiding them along the process. Some of the design work was simply outstanding, and solutions to problems were truly intuitive.
One of the first “Educate to Innovate” projects is called “National Lab Day.” National Lab Day is a program designed to bring students, educators, and volunteers together to learn and have fun. Local communities, called “hubs,” are encouraged to meet regularly throughout the year. Each year, communities will gather to show off what they have learned and created. Labs range from computer science to biology, geology to physics, and more. In short, this sounds like an exciting project, one that I have signed up for as a volunteer.
I’m excited to see education become a priority once again. Seeing what my children learn in school is very disappointing at times. Sure, they’re younger and I know that basic skills are necessary, but it seems they are learning at a much slower pace than when I was in school. I don’t want to see them struggle later in life because they didn’t get the education they need and deserve. I encourage you to help out where you can, volunteer for National Lab Day, or find another educational program you can participate in. Never stop learning!