Jailhouse Teaching

I was happy to receive a notice yesterday that one of the teachers that came to three of my professional development workshops in Tulsa is using the Indy Card Car (mechanical engineering) activity from Teaching Engineering Made Easy to inspire her students.

A lesson from jail: Teacher goes into Tulsa Jail to help young prisoners get an education – Tulsa World: Education.

Hands-on activities have traditionally been good for keeping at-risk students engaged in school. Not only does Sherry Knight have the challenge of facilitating the activity, she also has tool constraints because, as she said, “you can’t use scissors in jail.”

Keep up the good work Sherri!

Presentations and Workshops

For 14 years, I’ve been providing presentations at various conferences and events. When I first started writing books, I never guessed this would become such a big part of what I do. I’m so lucky that I’m a gifted speaker. I’m fortunate that I can get up in front of 700 people and “sparkle” as one lady told me. I get energy from the audience and actually begin to calm down once I start talking. I know this is a gift.

Statistics from The Institute of Mental Health state:

Fear of Public Speaking Statistics Data
Fear of public speaking is known as Glossophobia
Percent of people who suffer from speech anxiety 74 %
Percent of women who suffer from speech anxiety 75 %
Percent of men who suffer from speech anxiety 73 %
Number of Americans who have a social phobia 5.3 Million
Number of Americans who have a fear of crowded or public places 3.2 Million

podium1Last year, I spoke at The University of Tennessee’s 175th Anniversary for the College of Engineering. It was an amazing event!  After being delayed more than 24 hours in route, I managed to make it to the event only 15 minutes late. When it was my chance to speak and I looked out at the crowd of 700+ people, I felt the calm come over me and suddenly knew what I had to say and why it was so important. My message is strong and unwavering. The bottom line? An engineering education is the best education that anyone can get. It teaches you how to think and solve problems. These skills help everywhere you go and in everything that you do. Engineers can do anything!

Check out CelesteBaine.com for more about my presentations and workshops. I can help make your event memorable and successful.

ITEEA Booth 230

If you are going to ITEEA next week, stop by to say hello.

I’ll be in booth 230, right across from PLTW. I’m giving away free pins to everyone who tells me they read this blog each week.

I’ll also be giving a presentation on Thursday in the Exhibitor Showcase from 12:00-12:50 about Passport to Engineering – ways to use it and how it can benefit your students. We’ll be giving away freebies and by attending, you also have the chance to win a free copy.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Future Engineers Day

I gave the keynote presentation last week at a Future Engineers Day event in Oregon.

The lunchtime organization of the event was outstanding. The room was filled with 350 students, 70+ engineers and 50+ round tables that seated 8-10 people each.

Each engineer received a seating assignment so there was at least one engineer at each table. Lunch was filled with the students hearing about an engineer’s experiences and being able to ask questions and talk about their aspirations.

Are you involved in a similar event? How do you encourage students?

Engineers Can Do Anything!

Engineers Can Do AnythingOur most popular product of all time, the DVD “Engineers Can Do Anything”, is now available for streaming in the Passport to Engineering system. You can still purchase the DVD on our website and from Amazon or now you can save $15 and stream it. Log in and play it from anywhere. The video is also available for students to watch independently on the DVD version of Passport to Engineering.


Relating Daily Life to Engineering

One of my favorite things about Passport to Engineering is the ability to help students relate their favorite things to various engineering and engineering technology fields. For example, if a student likes music, the course directs them to a page that shows the most common types of engineers that work in the music industry. Other selections include playing video games; playing sports; going to movies; communicating with friends via IM, Twitter, FaceBook, FaceTime, etc; enjoying fashion; working with animals; working in medicine; working for NASA and many others.

Comparison of Ways to Get Started Using Passport to Engineering

Online Access DVD Version
This option allows you to get going right away. Covers 33 different types of engineering and engineering technology, career handouts, personality and academic assessments, career navigation based on interests, engineering themed puzzles and games, books and videos.Each student is given login credentials to keep track of their passport stamps.Purchase courses individually using PayPal on the course website or as a package using our shopping cart.

Bonus! Automatic extensions for one year!
Purchase the complete online version and be automatically enrolled in any new courses added in 2014.

Try Telecommunications Engineering for Free

This option is ideal for school districts, teachers, engineering camps, after school programs, counseling offices, libraries and any other situations that require multiple users while keeping costs low. Covers 40 different types of engineering and engineering technology.

Special pricing for classrooms.

The DVD will install Passport to Engineering on your computer(s). Students can use any licensed computer, receive their passport stamps and print their passport. When all 40 stamps have been obtained, teachers can print a customized “Certificate of Travel.”

More information

Passport to Engineering is a one-time fee. Once you complete your purchase, you can use it for life.


Passport to Engineering

Passport to EngineeringBig news today! At long last, Passport to Engineering is here!

Passport to Engineering will help students understand engineering and engineering technology in a whole new way.

In Passport to Engineering, students will watch a short video on a specific discipline, take a short test and when they pass the test, they’ll receive a stamp in their passport. Get all 33 stamps and they’ll receive a certificate of travel proving that they’ve been to all of the engineering and engineering technology destinations.

Passport to Engineering includes:

  • Flights to 27 engineering and 6 engineering technology destinations. Includes:
    • a 2-4 minute video
    • career handout with career description, salary information, job outlook, industries with the highest levels of employment, and the top paying industries
    • a list of ABET programs/schools for that discipline
    • a review quiz (4 questions)
    • Passport Stamp upon successful completion of review
    • discipline specific puzzles and games.
  • Flights based on what you like to do – this option offers career track suggestions.
  • A personality test to gauge if engineering is a good fit.
  • An academic challenge to gauge your academic readiness.
  • Engineering career books for further investigation.
  • Engineering videos (Engineers Can Do Anything, Women in Engineering and The Road Ahead).

Something for Everyone

  1. Online Access – This option allows you to get going right away. Purchase courses individually or as a package. Covers 33 different types of engineering and engineering technology. Two free courses can get you started quickly.
  2. DVD Version – This option is great for those who don’t want to rely on an internet connection. Special pricing for classrooms. Covers 40 different types of engineering and engineering technology. Be sure to watch the demo.

Try it out and let me know how you like it!


Self-Confidence is Key

gleerhThe reasons that we hold events, competitions or camps may often seem so obvious – we want to recruit into our programs or schools or lead students toward their untapped potential (a.k.a. – a better future). I read that robotics has become so popular because it’s an integrated and engaging approach to all things STEM plus teamwork, problem solving, collaboration, and innovation.

It’s difficult to measure your program’s success with middle school students because they are so far from college. Without diligent tracking, you may never know if your program influenced them to pursue a STEM education.

The softer reasons that we hold events are also because we want to tell students that we believe in them or that we believe they can do it. It’s great for their self-esteem to know that they have a champion on their side. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, what is there to stop you from doing exactly what you want with your life and making the perfect career for yourself?


Five Things Teachers Can Do Right Now

I’ve received many emails lately about Engineers Week and what it’s all about. To briefly summarize, Engineers Week (Eweek) is always during the president’s birthday week. So this year, it’s Feb. 16-22. Eweek statistics show that last year, 40,000 engineers visited classrooms to educate students about the field of engineering. Eweek extrapolates that those engineers reached 5 million students! There are only 20 days until Eweek and it’s not too late to get involved.

Below, I have provided suggestions for teachers to use Eweek as a special time to really educate, inspire, motivate and/or cajole interest in engineering. It’s a time to celebrate the profession and the amazing advances and achievements of the field. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get people to help you in this mission.

Five things that teachers can do right now.

  1. The first thing I would recommend to get an engineer to come to your classroom is to open the phone book and call a local firm that has a yellow page ad. Explain that you are a teacher and would like an engineer to talk to your kids for Engineers Week. You can give them the link to Eweek (www.discovere.org). Most firms benefit from the exposure so you might be surprised at the results. If they seem resistant, just try another.
  2. Put your state in the search engine to find local events in your area.
  3. There is a good chance that in a classroom of 30 students, at least one or two will have parents that are engineers. You may be able to get the parent engineers to talk to your class.
  4. Call your local college of engineering and see if you can arrange a tour or see if they are doing anything special to celebrate the week. Don’t forget about junior colleges and vocational schools! They are also great resources.
  5. Contact your local engineering society to find out what they are doing. For example, the IEEE, ASME, ASCE, NSPE and many others have state branches that are independently run by engineers in your state. This may be an excellent opportunity to make a lasting connection. Just put (ieee.org) or (asme.org) or (asce.org) or (nspe.org) into your browser and search for local or state chapters of the organization. When you find your state contact, write to the president asking for help.

What are you doing for Eweek? Questions, suggestions? Post them here!

Outreach Communication

For us engineering education advocates, when we want to inspire students, the problem isn’t about finding information on engineering careers, locating hands-on activities, or helping students decide which college to attend. It’s more about figuring out:

  1. What is appealing to students (what drives this generation);
  2. How to present the information;
  3. Getting that tailored information to them (books, DVDs, hands-on projects, posters, websites, etc.);
  4. Answering their questions (Will I like engineering? How hard will I have to work?, Is it worth the hard work?, etc.).

To refresh your memory, The National Academy of Engineering conducted a major study a few years ago to address the messages we portray to pre-college students about engineering. Changing the Conversation, the result of the study, states that young people want jobs that make a difference.  Additional recommendations from the research study are as follows:

  • Stop reinforcing the images of “nerdy and boring”
  • Stop focusing on math and science as the needed inputs and instead focus on the outputs, career opportunities, and making a difference in the world
  • Use the word “create” not “build”
  • Use images of people, not things: especially avoid using gears and mechanical looking things
  • Use the following five words in describing engineering: discovery, design, imagination, innovation, contribution
  • Describe engineer as creative problem solvers, essential to health, happiness and safety
  • Emphasize that engineers shape the future

Have you been using the recommendations? With Engineers Week on the horizon, right now is the perfect time to figure out when and how to jump on the bandwagon.


The Engineering Look

What does an engineer look like? You can put on a lab coat and people automatically think doctor or scientist. A headset implies telephone operator, sales person or receptionist. A space suit screams Astronaut. Pilots, firefighters, police people, photographers, teachers, construction people, farmers and many other occupations have a certain “look”. But what does an engineer look like?

One problem with determining “the look” is that the field is so broad. Engineers design, manufacture, build, research, write, investigate and present their findings. It’s easy to think of engineers designing rides at Disney or crawling around inside of a bridge to check for stress cracks. We know what that looks like but what about the engineers that don’t design things? How do we show an engineer that is checking air quality or researching new and safer ways to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs?

Is anyone having a fashion/runway show for eweek next month?

Engineering for Life

Promoting engineering to K-12 students is about much more than teaching, mentoring, you or me. Promoting engineering is a movement to help students learn to problem-solve, explore, investigate, analyze, create and think for themselves. It’s a way to teach them to think, assess situations and look for solutions to the problems that confound them daily. It’s about helping them find better ways to get through each and every day – to make life more fun, be more productive or make the world a better place.

If the students of today are not up to the task of making the world a better place, where will we be in 10 years, 20 years or 50 years? What kind of planet will we be leaving to future generations?

Get Ready for Engineers Week!

Now that the holidays are behind us, the next big celebration on my calendar is Engineers Week (eweek). Because I run a center that is based on promoting engineering, this is a big deal. In fact, it’s such a big deal that I talk about it all year. If I facilitate a training, those teachers hear about it. If I talk to engineers about mentoring, they also hear about it. I blog about it and sometimes throw eweek parties. The reason I get so excited about Engineers Week is because I get the chance to celebrate the profession with thousands of like-minded people all over the world.

If you want to decorate the halls, check out our posters. The majority were designed by students and I promise you will find many that you like. http://www.engineeringedu.com/store/index.php?route=product/category&path=20

If you run contests or competitions and need inexpensive student prizes, check out our engineering pins. They are fun and always bring a smile to my face. http://www.engineeringedu.com/store/index.php?route=product/category&path=62

If you want to do easy, fun and high-engagement hands-on activities with students, take a look at Teaching Engineering Made Easy for activity ideas and inspiration. http://www.engineeringedu.com/store/index.php?route=product/category&path=33_67

If you are an engineer planning to visit a classroom, take a look at our eweek kits to make your visit memorable and dynamic. http://www.engineeringedu.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=97&product_id=285

The point is to do something to celebrate. The week runs from Feb 16-22.  This is your chance.


Get ready for 2014!

With 2014 right around the corner, it’s time for all of of us to reflect on our 2013 accomplishments and areas that we’d like to improve.

My professional New Year’s resolutions always looks something like this:

  1. Find new ways to communicate the cool factor of an engineering education.
  2. Conspire with other engineering evangelists to find new ways to communicate the cool factor.
  3. Communicate the cool factor to teachers, counselors and parents.
  4. Spread the joy.
  5. Repeat often.

Although my list defies resolution etiquette by not being very specific, it works for me. Sometimes I also add in the margin my definition of “cool factor” just in case I learn new things about engineering and somehow overlay the old information instead of adding to it.

Margin notes: Cool Factor = An engineering education teaches you how to think. You learn analytical, logical and problem-solving skills that help in everything that you do. Consider engineering education as a launching pad to become anything that you want to be. Spatial visualization, problem solving, teamwork, communication, and creativity can be transferred and applied to any field and are excellent tools for the future – whatever your future may be. Once you finish an engineering degree, you really feel like you can do anything.

This is how I do my part in making a better world. If people can spend 8-10 hours a day doing something they enjoy, the world will be a better place.

Happy Holidays!

Parent/Daughter Day at Weber State University

Born to Rock creations from activity in Teaching Engineering Made Easy 2.

Born to Rock creations from activity in Teaching Engineering Made Easy 2.

Friday and Saturday I facilitated two Parent/Daughter TEA (Technology Engineering Aptitude) Workshops at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. If you follow this blog, you have probably heard about my Mother/Daughter TEA workshops. Last weekend’s workshop was the same event except we open it to any parent that wants to attend with their daughter. Sometimes Moms come, sometimes Dads, and sometimes both parents attend. In this particular workshop, a Mom or a Dad attended with their middle school daughter and they completed engineering projects together. It was a great opportunity for families to learn about engineering careers. Not only did the middle school daughter learn about all that she can do with an engineering degree but her parents also learned that she can do it. They probably also saw that she was or could be good at it.

In the workshops, three amazing things happened:

1. A Dad told me that his older daughter attended our first workshop four years ago and became very excited about being an engineer. She just received a full ride scholarship to University of Utah to study electrical engineering! He was attending again with his younger daughter.

2. A 12-year old girl enjoyed the engineering challenge activity “Born to Rock” (in picture above) so much that she wants to do it at her birthday party.

3. Two Moms approached me about going back to school to become engineers. Did I think it was a good idea for them?

This workshop is the best I’ve ever seen at getting girls excited about engineering. Having parents attend and work on projects with their daughters supports her efforts not only during the workshop but also at home.

Information about holding a Mother/Daughter TEA at your location.

Engineering Innovation Posters

Changmin_OhLast Friday was the conclusion to our 2013 Engineering Innovation poster contest. The purpose of the contest was for students to design posters that will motivate and inspire their peers to consider an engineering career.

We had 149 thoughtful, creative and imaginative entries. I feel like a broken record but the judging has become more difficult each year. With the push in schools for hands-on and project-based learning, engineering has gained a toe hold in classrooms across the world. Students are getting it. They have a much better idea about what engineers do and can also visually express their ideas with strong images, colors and statements.

I’m proud that we run this contest annually. It’s always fun to see all the ideas and provide a conduit for students to inspire each other.

See all the winners.

Six tools for engineering instruction

These engineering tools can help with classroom instruction

engineering-toolsHere are reviews of six high-quality apps, tools, and websites that can help teach engineering concepts, courtesy of Common Sense Media and its new Graphite service—a free database of teacher-written reviews of learning technologies.


1. Amazing Alex

Learning rating: 4 (out of 5)
Grade range: 4-8
What is it? A crazy contraptions physics app that has kids cobble together Rube Goldberg-like devices to guide balls.
Pros: Inspiring and challenging activities are easy to navigate with the clean, sophisticated design.
Cons: Scientific terminology is lacking, as is a gentle hint system to teach concepts.
Bottom line: With endless possibilities and refined controls, Amazing Alex inspires kids to make unique puzzles and imaginative machines.
Full review: http://www.graphite.org/app/amazing-alex

2. Coaster Crafter

Learning rating: 4
Grade range: 7-12
What is it? This website cleverly draws on students’ love of roller coasters to teach velocity, force, and motion.
Pros: Students get frequent feedback, and after they master the basics they can try to build their own roller coasters.
Cons: Doesn’t work on tablet browsers, and teachers can’t assess student progress.
Bottom line: Outstanding physics game has ample teacher support and connects to a pastime that’s just plain fun.
Full review: http://www.graphite.org/website/coaster-crafter

3. Design Squad Nation

Learning rating: 5
Grade range: 3-8
What is it? Classmates can compete to solve fun engineering problems with this website.
Pros: Highly interactive resources drive home the skills and processes of engineering and design.
Cons: Episodes and games use Adobe Flash and won’t work on iOS devices.
Bottom line: Design Squad Nation makes engineering fun through hands-on activities and easy-to-understand scientific explanations.
Full review: http://www.graphite.org/website/design-squad-nation

4. Minecraft

Learning rating: 5
Grade range: 3-12
What is it? A spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep in this game for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.
Pros: Delivers open, creative, and purposeful play supported by frequent updates.
Cons: Open world can lead to power struggles and community problems without a shared code of conduct.
Bottom line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.
Full review: http://www.graphite.org/game/minecraft

5. MinecraftEdu

Learning rating: 5
Grade range: 1-12
What is it? A teacher dashboard and genius tutorial help this sandbox gem sparkle.
Pros: Stellar tutorial map and teacher dashboard aid accessibility and customizability.
Cons: Runs the danger of schoolifying Minecraft.
Bottom line: Great for learners who are new to Minecraft and in need of guidance, but loses some of the wide-open and mysterious allure of the original.
Full review: http://www.graphite.org/game/minecraftedu

6. World of Goo

Learning rating: 4
Grade range: 4-12
What is it? A fun puzzler about building structures with unique materials.
Pros: Intuitive controls, great design, and lots of implicit learning make this game a winner to explore.
Cons: Some of the challenging puzzles might frustrate kids with spatial difficulties.
Bottom line: A dependable hook for getting kids interested in geometry and the elements of building structures.
Full review: http://www.graphite.org/game/world-of-goo

Source: eSchool News. Thanks to Jo Oshiro of the Oregon University System for sending the link.

Take a Look, Get a Free Book

“Like” my page on Facebook and get a free book. If you are interested in engineering education, this fan page is for you. It’s still in development but will serve as a discussion forum for getting students into engineering. I’ll share my stories of success from organizations all over the world, keep you updated on my schedule so you can attend a workshop in your area, and direct you to products or events that will help you promote and share the fun of engineering.

When you like the page, send me your name and email address. After I confirm your like, I’ll provide a download link for a pdf version of “Engineers Make a Difference: Motivating Students to Pursue an Engineering Education.”

Engineers Decide

Awaken the young engineer within your student or child! Ideal for ages five through ten, Engineers Decide explains that engineering isn’t about “things” but about individuals, inspired to bring forth the discoveries that will change our world. By instilling the joy of designing the future – whether as part of a team or working solo – Engineers Decide ignites children’s curiosity to the wonders of applying their imagination to meet fresh challenges. Engineers deciding upon solutions for product development, as well as all sorts of inventions familiar to children, are described simply and depicted with colorful artwork. And photos show children actively participating in the adventure of discovering next-generation technology. Filled with interactive graphics and videos, Engineers Decide stirs tomorrow’s engineers to realize their potential by exploring this exciting field.

Engineers Decide by David Janosz, was recently released in the interactive iBook format for the iPad and is free in the iTunes Bookstore until October 13.