What a grand couple of days in DC… a ride on the secret Senate subway, hanging out with Toshiba executives and old friends from Japan, cocktails with Bill Nye, flirting with exotic women (she was almost 2), and the possibility of laptops and other technology for my classroom next fall. This was the 17th annual Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards!
Oregon was represented among the eight teams that were selected from among over 13,000 applicants. Michael Lampert, the 2009 Oregon Teacher of the Year, happened to be their coach (it was his fourth time with a winning team), so we got to hang out, as well. The 9th graders from West Salem High School envisioned and explored SMARTpaint, a paint that will contain tiny RFID chips that can detect pressure, temperature, and so on, and could be used in a whole range of applications such as warning of black ice on roadways, helping to officiate sporting events, and monitoring conditions in a building.
Other teams from kindergarten through 12th grade had fabulous winning ideas such as generating electricity from the heat absorbed by roadways, a watch that can administer a shot of epinephrine and call paramedics in the event of an allergic reaction, and a interactive music stand with ingenious features to make practicing and performing more fun, productive and convenient.
These kids, and the thousands of others who participated, are the visionaries who will shape our world. They imagine what the world needs, research what we know and still need to know, and find ways to start us down the pathway to new and innovative products that will – in the words of Bill Nye – “change the world!”
It’s the combination of creativity and analysis that I live by and that guides my teaching. It’s what I’ve been talking about all year. It’s what kids do best, if we let them.