January 29, 2009
The competition challenges middle school students to design a city of the future with a focus on water conservation, reuse, and renewable energy. The students use the game SimCity (Deluxe 4) to help them build their three-dimensional models to scale. They have a semester to dream up and then construct their miniature cities entirely out of recycled materials. Supposedly, this inspires them to consider engineering as a profession.
He belittles the project, saying:
This is not how engineer's turn an idea into reality. It doesn't seem to me that the students needed to know any actual engineering or any engineering constraints to construct their models. So, this is how a non-engineer turns ideas into reality. And, I'm not sure this exercise , in any way, generalizes to any real-world situation.
I suppose the kids did learn how to play SimCity. Videogames 101. That's what kids need -- more time playing videogames. I'm sure SimCity is a neat program, but it's not exactly a precursor to AutoCAD or other real-world construction/drafing programs.
And how does building a model out of recycled mterials generalize to building real stuff with recylced materials? Someone explain that to me.
Found via Amritas via Joanne Jacobs, where Joanne writes:
My husband, born to be an engineer, built a color TV set when he was in high school. It worked. His father, also an engineer, built model planes as a teenager. They flew.
My first husband, a math-physics guy, designed an atomic bomb in fifth grade for a school project. Â“It probably wouldnÂ’t have worked,Â” he said. But heÂ’d studied the science and the math. It wasnÂ’t an art project.
My uncle built a working light show in his basement when he was a kid. He rigged up a Lite Brite to a Casio keyboard, so when he played certain notes, different lights lit up.
I wish I had developed more of an interest in these math and science projects when I was young.
To conclude with an awesome comment by hardlyb:
When I was in 3rd grade I made a sextant out of a protractor, a couple of pieces of wood, some string, nails, and thumbtacks. The trick, of course, was to calibrate it, and I canÂ’t remember what I did, but when I tested it that night against the North Star, it was dead on. Anyway, I turned the thing in after doing a presentation to the class, and I got an A. Then Miss GrumpyFace, the teacher from the class next door, came in to judge our contest. She awarded first prize to a Â‘dioramaÂ’ that had Native Americans and dinosaurs in it (the diorama was really a shoebox with plastic toys arranged in it), and she held up my entry as an example of something beneath contempt. She had absolutely no idea what it was, and hadnÂ’t bothered to ask.
I didnÂ’t really mind her reaction, because the realization that many of the teachers at my crappy rural East Texas public school were too ignorant and/or stupid to understand the work an 8-year-old was something that I, as an 8-year-old, found very interesting. It doesnÂ’t appear that things have changed much, except now they give all the kids a shoebox and some plastic Native Americans and dinosaurs. So the teachers donÂ’t ever have wonder Â“What the hell is that thing?Â”.
Posted by: Amritas at January 29, 2009 02:09 PM (y3aIN)
Posted by: airforcewife at January 30, 2009 09:26 AM (Fb2PC)
Posted by: Guard Wife at January 30, 2009 10:13 AM (N3nNT)
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