"According to a follow-up report published last month, the academies found that the United States ranks 27th out of 29 wealthy countries in the proportion of college students with degrees in science or engineering, while the World Economic Forum ranked this country 48th out of 133 developed and developing nations in quality of math and science instruction."
ReSET was one of over 500 organizations that participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall this past weekend (10/23-10/24/10). Hundreds of children visited the ReSET booth to try science experiments, as did many former-children. A number of the scientists and engineers who visited expressed interest in learning more about volunteering. Many thanks to ReSET volunteers Ji Chen, Bob Blumberg, Rich Repplier, Bob Hauptman, Bob Stern, Eva Jacobs, and Felton Rogers who attended and helped out. Bob Blumberg's experiment demonstrating air pressure with an upended cup of water was a big hit. Ji and Eva spent hours helping future scientists and engineers use batteries and electrical wire to light up a flashlight bulb.
The hands-on experience can bring great promise to students in early science education. As a robot inspector for FIRST regional competition in Philadelphia, I was astonished by the hands-on skills teenage participants demonstrated during the competition. They knew how to use tools and software properly, and how to solve problems on spot. They were proactive and enjoyed working with each other. The robots they engineered were impressive, with high complexity and functionality. This showed me how well young students can apply what they learn in the field of engineering and science, at the same time, how science can be instructed for the development of their project and interpersonal skills that are highly valued in industries.
Hands-on elementary science not only concretely demonstrates important concepts, but it also nurtures the desire for students to learn more and form good habits of experimentation, teamwork, and inquiry into our natural world. In the long run, applying scientific concepts and forming good study habits in a fun and engaging way at the elementary level will help produce more scientists, engineers and technicians for our society. Being a ReSET volunteer speaks to my values and motivations as an engineer and educator and it is an honor to work with the children, their teachers, and the ReSET team.