“STEM is The Future” say’s Oscar Naval. “STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—STEM, and therefore, STEM education—are vital to everyone.”
Having a basic understanding of physical computing with microcontrollers and the internet of things is essential, especially for today’s entrepreneurs who may have an electronics MVP idea.
After speaking with other parents of children at his 12 year old son’s primary school, Oscar discovered that he was not alone seeing that kids play on their game stations, tablets, computers and mobiles almost constantly. But, they do not understand or appreciate what makes them work.
“As a kid, I used to take things apart to see how they work and build again.”
Kids today start off in the physical world playing with Lego then many graduate to a virtual world – for example, Minecraft – to take things apart and build them again. So why not teach kids more than playing in a virtual world? Learn to program changes in the virtual world and then change the real world with some physical computing. Teaching how to build some electronic circuits and program these real physical world creations is one way to do physical computing.
Oscar’s career started in Sunnyvale, California in a startup company that was one of the first in electronic design automation. He founded the California Corporation Auriga Engineering consulting firm. Later, he came to Australia on holiday, met his wife and started a family so he never left. He has been a Science Interpreter at World of Energy Fremantle working with school groups showing and facilitating science experiments. And, he worked at Fremantle eTech as a TAFE lecturer and a Training Coordinator and Business Analyst for the Department of Education & Training (DET) WA for Westone Services.
The Problem: The education system is slow in changing to the rapid changes in modern technology. The current education curriculum model is changing but is still mostly rote learning. Today everyone needs to ‘learn to learn’ because you master one technology only to find it’s now obsolete (e.g. you may have finally mastered MS-Word 2013 to find out its outdated and you need to upgrade yet again). Today STEM is about ‘learning to learn’. Learn by doing fun hands-on physical computing activities helps us all understand our human relationship to the digital world.
Looking at the job market now and future jobs, the area that everyone needs to be comfortable with to excel in the future is STEM. STEM makes entrepreneurs, innovators, makers, creators, problem solvers, and inventors. Besides, STEM is already everywhere in our homes, cars, payment and ticketing systems, to our workplaces and mobile phones. It shapes our everyday experiences.
Why learn STEM and specifically physical computing? Learning STEM today is analogous to teaching reading and writing in the past: ‘why teach writing, we need to know how to plant the crops’. How many of us have grown up making a career as a writer? So why become fluent in reading and writing? We all know you must learn to read and write because it opens opportunities.
Today, even if you never become a professional computer programmer or have an technically related career, the process of learning to code opens up new opportunities. STEM, and particularly physical computing, helps you learn collaborative thinking, failing and trying again (debugging), logically processes thinking, and project planning by breaking down ideas into smaller procedures. These are skills that are transferable to any fast changing career, including non-technical ones.
If you or your child wishes to STEM Learn more about physical computing see STEM-Learn.com. Oscar is conducting STEM Learn courses with the Raspberry Pi. He will be at Thinklab Coworking running several 1 hour School Holiday “Fun with Electronics” programs for ages 7 to 70.
Check out the timetables and signup on eventbrite. https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/stem-learncom-expand-your-mind-with-a-raspberry-pi-14139290021