Engineers are usually sort of introverted, right? I should know, I’m married to an engineer and have many in my family tree. But when you get them talking about something they love, there’s no stopping them.
That was true over the weekend at at the Witte Museum‘s annual Build It! event, a celebration of National Engineers Week (February 16-22, 2014). An army of community volunteers set up demonstrations, tech toys, and educational games for kids of all ages, hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Rackspace sent an impressively large group of volunteers. (To learn more about Rackspace’s community involvement, see Rack Gives Back.) They passed out “Geeks Rule” stickers and staffed a variety of stations, including a maze to represent cloud computing, a HEXBUG Nano V2 track, and a table of Mega Bloks. The volunteers from Boeing (a sponsor, along with Time Warner Cable’s Connect A Million Minds) brought brain-teaser puzzles, including Oblo Puzzle Spheres.
The young members of the Screaming Chickens team brought several robots, including Ariel (which F.T. got to drive, using an aftermarket wireless Wii nunchuck), a glowing-eyed skeleton in a motorized wheelchair, and the crowd favorite: a robot T-shirt gun.
The members of 10BitWorks Hackerspace brought a 3D printer and set up a station for building circuits out of dough, among other things. A group of IEEE Life Long Members brought a retro educational toy, the Speak & Spell, and shared stories about its design challenges.
These pictures show only a small sample of the demonstrations, toys, and games at Build It!—see more photos on the Witte’s Facebook page. The list of volunteer organizations also includes Girls Inc., SREIT, St. Philip’s College, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
The volunteers were key to this event. It’s a tribute to the Witte that they have such strong community connections. The adult and senior engineers were able to connect with the kids in a sincere, un-forced way. There is something about how engineers think that cuts across generations.
More good news: February 22-23, 2014, is members’ preview weekend for the new Alien Worlds and Androids exhibit at the Witte Museum. My kids are even more excited about it than they were about last year’s Dinosaurs Unearthed (earlier post).
If you want to see more robots in action, the next Alamo-FIRST robotics event, the FRC South Super-Regional Championship, will be February 26-28, 2014 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The Geekbus will be there, too.
Did you have a Speak & Spell, too? What are your favorite brain teaser toys?