The red-eye flight, while giving me lots of time to think of how much I missed the bed in the hotel (!!!), provided me with opportunities to reflect and share the innovations I witnessed this week at the USPTO Summer Teacher Institute. Interestingly, every person I sat next to on a plane this past week was in a tech field in some form or another. Last night's pre-flight wait led to conversations with a technology procurement specialist who shared my wall outlet. She was very stoked about the the visits from the various guests and the focus of the conference. The flight from CA to ATL, while laced with the unhappy sounds of a puppy traumatized with loud noises, led to conversations about the conference and NASA Ames visit with a software engineer from Raleigh. This particular engineer had already filed several patents through his organization, and has a 17 year-old son who regularly manipulates and revamps his computer, Wii, and other forms of hardware. He was very familiar with the Maker movement.
The final flight to Charlottesville found me beside William "Bill" Curry, former NFL player, former head coach of Georgia State, Alabama, & Kentucky (!) and television analyst for ESPN who was headed to see his five grandsons, one of which was competing in a band competition this evening. His grandson's success was initially launched by the creation and donation of a tech-based music studio for the community by local rocker Dave Matthews. I think I could have spoken to him for the longest time, as he simply beamed when sharing the work of his wife, author and women's supporter/activist Dr. Carolyn Curry, his children (PhD-level English teacher and professional triathlete), and his seven grandchildren. The changes in technology over his lifetime have been profound, and Mr. Curry, while sharing that he was not as tech savvy as his grandchildren, was surfing the Net and whizzing through his iPhone 5 like a professional. Educational practices using STEM were a hot topic with Mr. Curry, and I was excited to note that he was very pleased about the increases in self-esteem (and grades) his grandsons were experiencing in our division on behalf of teachers just like you.
The conference, while not providing me with as many specific suggestions, did give me many websites to explore, and a greater sense of confidence in my ability to completely engage students with relevant STEM-based paths they can embark on in the future. Please know that ALL of you were very inspiring to me.
I can create a Google Drive folder to share ideas/lessons if anyone is interested.