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    • VDub57

      Hello, Cake! I've been lurking here for awhile getting the lay of the land a little and have really been enjoying the tone of this platform. I guess it's time to contribute back to the discussions a little.

      To introduce myself, I'd like to pose a question that will help me in my job. I work as a middle school technology teacher in a small town in the midwest. I teach a class that's pretty wide open (in a curricular sense) for kids to explore whatever tech gets them fired up. We do some basic coding as well as 3D design and printing, and then we do some work with robotics, microcontrollers (arduino, raspberry pi, etc.), urban farming, airborne drones & underwater ROV's, and e-textiles. Last year we 3D printed a prosthetic for a local farmer, for example. We also do some old school lower tech stuff like basic home plumbing and electricity, soldering & circuits, sewing & embroidery. Essentially, after some introductory whole class stuff on coding and then 3D design, the kids get to start exploring their world via technology in whatever flavor they choose. I stress career & entrepreneurial outlets for much of what they do, but also emphasize the importance of doing fun stuff for fun's sake. My question to you folks, then, is this. What do you think kids should be learning about now to prepare them for the world of the future? I want them to start building a skillset in a thing now that will empower them to apply those skills into something life changing when they get an opportunity to do so. Thanks for your input. The kids and I are eager to hear what you might suggest.

    • It sounds like you are giving the kids a well rounded education. That’s pretty awesome.

    • yaypie
      Ryan Grove

      Last year we 3D printed a prosthetic for a local farmer, for example.

      Woah! I didn't even know that was possible. I'd love to hear more about this!

      Your class sounds amazing. I almost certainly owe my career (or at least my career trajectory) to the fact that I went to a science and technology-focused magnet high school that gave me a lot of freedom to learn about programming. We didn't have anything quite as advanced as your program sounds, but the school did have an internship program that allowed me to spend every Friday working at a local tech company (Intel). That internship is what bootstrapped my career.

      Based on my experiences, I'd say one of the most useful things you can do for kids is what you're doing — exposing them to things that spark their curiosity and creativity, and giving them the tools and freedom to learn and gain experience in subjects they find fascinating that aren't necessarily part of the prepackaged general curriculum. I think this can be especially important for kids who don't have the opportunity or the means to do this kind of self-guided learning at home, and who might otherwise never have a chance to feel excited or inspired about learning something.

      Learning skills is always great, but learning how to learn is even more important, since it means you're set for a lifetime no matter what might change in the future. I wish every school gave kids the freedom to direct their learning toward what they're interested in, since I think that's the best way to teach them to learn on their own.

      I'm so grateful for the opportunities I was given by teachers like you. I bet your students are too!

    • flei

      I agree. Teaching so that kids love and value learning, as the OP appears to be doing, coupled with teaching how to learn and how to think critically is what kids today need most. With almost infinte access to information (both good and bad) so readily available on the web, as they grow into adulthood kids must want to learn and know how to use the information that is out there to do so. I think if they have these traits their future is wide open.

    • Chris

      A science teacher changed my life with a simple experiment when I was a freshman in high school. We had a glass of water, a thermometer, and dry ice to freeze our water. We were supposed to measure the temperature of our water at specific intervals until it froze solid, then plot temperature versus time on a graph.

      I had low self-confidence so it took courage for me to ask my teacher what was going wrong. Why had my thermometer stopped working? It went down to 32 degrees and wouldn't move. Mr. Davis was very kind about it, but he turned the question back to me. Why do you think it stopped moving?

      I didn't know and was sure it was defective. I flicked it with my fingers to get the mercury unstuck, but it stayed stuck. All the other kids in the class showed on their charts that the temperature kept dropping. I felt it was unfair but I told Mr. Davis that I decided to write down the numbers as my thermometer reported them and I hoped he could understand why my chart would look crazy and different from every other chart I was seeing.

      The next day he opened class by saying he graded the charts and only one person got a passing grade, and that was an A. I was so upset. I had tried my best but my thermometer got stuck. It finally resumed dropping in temperature, but not before my experiment was ruined.

      He showed my chart. I got the A. We had discovered that the temp won't drop further until all the water was frozen. The other kids faked their data! They did it because their belief was so strong that it should keep dropping. My bias was so strong I thought my thermometer was whacked.

      I will never forget that experiment as long as I live. The moral of the story is the truth is so very hard to see even when it is right in front of your eyes, if you have a pre-conceived bias.

      I think Mr. Davis inspired me to choose science for my career.

    • amacbean16

      Your class sounds amazing!

      I think you're doing it right: Spreading a broad feast and giving them time and resources to pursue something that lights them up. It also sounds like you're passionate about this yourself, which is at least 75% of what inspired me from my middle school teachers.

      We live in such a society of consumption and I think connecting kids with their ability to create (whether it be through sewing, soldering, coding, etc.) is empowering.

      We gave my 10 year old an arduino kit for Christmas and I've enjoyed tinkering with her.

    • Dj

      What do you think kids should be learning about now to prepare them for
      the world of the future?


      I'd love to hear some answers to this. My son is a Sophmore who has taken classes that sounds like yours since middle school. He's involved in every robotics/engineering thing he can find at his school. He's way above my league in understanding any of that stuff already. He's trying to plan what courses to take his Junior and Senior years, and asking about college, which neither his mother or I have any experience with. His goal is to do something with VR. I don't know if that's a next big thing that would be a potential career path, or a guaranteed plan for him living in my basement till he's 30.
      He leaves again tomorrow for another robotics competition. The stuff kids are doing in high school these days is amazing.

      -Edit to describe photo. There's three robots on each team. at end of match, there's points awarded for each robot that is elevated off the ground. Problem is, there's only one short bar mounted high to grab on to. His teams robot is in the middle. It is designed so that it latches on, deploys carbon fiber lifting arms out each side, the other robots drive over them, and it lifts all 3. Last competition, theirs was one of 2 robots that actually pulled it off.

    • cvdavis

      My best advice to people/kids is to do what you love and the money will follow. Yeah short term back up plans are useful but never give up on the passion.

    You've been invited!