Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Students learn engineering principles and build relationships by creating automata

Scott Swaaley, a physics teacher in San Deigo, has created a remarkable educational program called Seniors Squared. Swaaley had his students design and create custom automata to teach them about physics and engineering principles. That's a great idea, for sure, but it didn't end there. Swaaley and his students took this educational experience to another level by partnering with local senior citizens. Here's an excerpt from his description of the program:

As part of a joint physics and humanities project, my high school seniors partnered with senior citizens from a local senior community center and designed, constructed, and troubleshot an automaton specifically for their senior citizen partner. My students learned and applied concepts ranging from torque, simple machines, and angular velocity to engineering design principles and the precision of an engineering proposal. Their project was accompanied by an engineering analysis of their piece as well as a series of writing pieces on their senior citizen (on which the automaton was based). Overall, my students were able to practice engineering, get involved with our local community, and to build a meaningful relationship with a local adult in need.

Because of this innovative program, Swaaley has been selected as one of 30 finalist for McGraw-Hill's Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Innovative Educator Award (STEMIE Award)! Voting has begun to select the winners, and you can help by voting now.

How you can vote for the Seniors Squared program:

  1. Sign up to vote on the McGraw-HIll web site. It only takes 15 seconds!
  2. Once you are signed up, you can view the application video on the grant website.
  3. On the bottom right of the application page, under the description of the project, there is a green button that says "Vote for this". Please click it!

If you think this program is as great as I do, take a single minute (or less) to give him your vote!

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