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College 4 . Us

Plan and act today so you have no regrets tomorrow...

What to Teach: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Programming

This is not about turning your kids into computer programmers.  It’s a career and lifestyle choice that they are not ready to make, and you should probably not force it upon them.  Instead, we should focus on what programming teaches our children:

There are now many programming languages that use simple, graphic commands such as blocks to get kids interested in trying them out.  They free kids from the frustrating grammatical rules of the traditional programming languages (e.g., a semicolon behind each Pascal statement).  A good one is Scratch from MIT.

Some good resources:

Probabilities and Statistics

We live in a world of probabilities, and in many cases, that's how our business decisions should be guided.  Unfortunately, we do not teach this to our children at a very young age even though it’s always around us.

Luck?  One improves one’s “luck” with a better understanding of probabilities and statistics.

Some resources:

Mechanical Engineering

When I was taking auto shop in high school, I have a hard time visualizing how the engine works as a whole.  I finally figured it out after I built something like this transparent model engine from Revell.

I found certain Lego Technics sets to be extremely educational in teaching how gears, worm screws, and pulleys work together to create motions that seem extremely complex.  A few years ago, I finally learned how the old Chinese legendary “south-pointing chariot” works after I built one using Lego gears I saved from an old Mindstorms set.  I also designed and built an elevator pulling mechanism when I moved to my two-story house.  My next project is to build a differential gear so I can understand how it works (see below for instructions).

Lego Technic parts are very precisely made so they lock very well and they can be taken apart and re-used indefinitely.  So a comprehensive set of gears can get you to build many things.  You can get more gears by hunting them on eBay or salvaging them from unwanted Lego Technic sets.  The quickest way may be to get the Lego Education Simple and Powered Machines Set

Here are some materials about using Legos to teach mechanical design:

Some samples:



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