TRAVEL HERE: PEROT MUSEUM INTRODUCES TECH TRUCK
The TECH Truck is building up STEAM and heading out on adventures many museums never dare. Thanks to generous donations from Dell, Perot Museum will be able to take their message on the road. According to the Museum’s press release, the truck will be going into “economically disadvantaged neighborhoods” to spark the imaginations of young people who – “for a variety of reasons – do not or cannot engage with the Museum at its physical location.”
Allow me to share what I’ve discovered about the alphabet soup of this project. TECH stands for “Tinker, Engineer, Create and Hack” and STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Our educational system is not currently producing enough qualified candidates to fill the available STEM jobs, so the Perot is sending the TECH Truck to change lives. By inspiring kids to have an interest in STEM,they can be encouraged to enter these fields of study not only to get them out of their underprivileged neighborhoods, but to help our economy as a whole. That’s a tall order.
I was particularly interested when they added “A” to their STEM acronym to get STEAM. The “A” inserts Art between Engineering and Math, because Art will be on the menu for the Perot/Dell TECH Truck. Art is my passion and I’m glad it will be a part of the experience. Little in my life has brought me as much joy as my love of the arts. I’m all for encouraging kids and helping the economy, but I also want to keep art alive and meaningful.
The Media Unveiling and Ribbon Cutting
The Perot launched their new toy with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday morning. The bright shiny truck was set up behind the Perot on a special permits parking lot. Oh, and there were cookies!
On hand were Colleen Walker, the Perot’s CEO, Teresa Lenling, Perot’s Director of Public Programs and Mona Charif a VP of Dell. Each of the dignitaries expressed their enthusiasm for the project and then Ms. Walker was joined by students of the the Village Tech Schools for the actual ribbon cutting.
I might add that the scissors for the ceremony were created by the 3D printer which is part of the TECH Truck’s equipment list. The tables were also decorated with objects created by the printer and the media contingency was fascinated by the colorful objects which ranged from attractive vases to miniature dinosaurs.
The doors of the truck were opened and the Village Tech kids eagerly swarmed in. No technology was left un-handled. Photographers and videographers crowded around. It was an exciting moment.
Outside the truck, tables were set up to share some of the kinds of experiences which will be available when the truck visits. The tables featured wooden blocks for building, an electronic musical instrument and some great little gadgets called Little Bits that did all kinds of electronic tricks.
All Aboard for Knowledge
The TECH truck will accomplish its lofty goals with a two-pronged approach. The vehicle will head into the neighborhoods for drop-in sessions to set off STEAM sparks in some of the casual experimenters, hoping to transform them into interested participants. The students who show a curiosity and an aptitude for the casual drop-in sessions will then be channeled into multiple-session mini-camps which will follow the same theme as the drop-in sessions. The Museum’s existing relationships with organizations like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Boys & Girls Clubs will assist them in their efforts.
So, I wish happy trails to the Dell/Perot TECH truck and leave you with these photos.