ABOVE Attallaka's desire for STEM programs to succeed
means educating adults as well as children. She looks for
ways to expose teachers to STEM techniques they can
use in their classrooms. Recently, she hosted a workshop
for local teachers to learn more about using robotics in
eight years old, I’d never heard of K’Nex. What I discovered
was that K’Nex takes Lincoln Logs and Legos to a whole
new level. As I looked through the many variations of the
construction toy system, I wondered if perhaps the doorway to
new invention is as simple as “play.”
Play. Curiosity. Essential keys to the future.
I thought of Thomas Edison. When a reporter once asked
him how it felt to fail 10,000 times while trying to invent the
light bulb, he replied, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I've just
found 10,000 ways that won't work.” All that it took was one
discovery to light up the world. But before the one, there were
10,000 tries. Too often our children learn to judge success
by a high grade rather than to see value in the journey of
learning. Trial and error can often be a better teacher than
memorization of facts. The one problem missed on a test is the
one that will never be forgotten. STEM is about the journey
of learning, reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
When faced with issues without answers, the future may very
well depend on these qualities.
As I envisioned the twenty-four kids at STEM Camp this past summer building and creating with
K’Nex, digging through owl pellets and classifying bones, I thought of more inventors and scientists
like Einstein and Tesla. I also thought of Mary Anderson, the inventor of the windshield wiper, and
Marion O'Brien Donovan, the inventor of the first waterproof disposable diaper. (She should have
been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the sanity of mothers worldwide.) Of course, the list
of amazing women inventors is extensive, which leads me to another important project for Attallaka
“F.L.A.M.E.S. stands for ‘Females Learning the Application of Math, Engineering and Science'
18 Toombs County Magazine