If you’re like me, you probably get a lot of educational newsletters, emails and publications…sometimes way too many to actually keep up with. Skim over the contents section of any of these journals, and you will undoubtedly find at least one article, if not more, on the importance of increasing students participation, and success, in STEM related fields of study.
STEM of course is the acronym whose letters stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Educators, administrators, and even the White House have become extremely concerned that as the demand for graduates who are proficient in technology related disciplines increases, the United States is not keeping up pace with the rest of the world in meeting this demand. This demand is found in the corporate world, where industry requires individuals who are able to create the products of tomorrow that will eventually replace our current automobiles, appliances, plasma televisions and computer touch pads. It is also found in area of defense, where scientists and engineers must be found who can help to develop solutions to the increasingly complex dilemma of keeping our population safe from threats in a world full of uncertainty. In short, the need to fill this gap is vital to both our countries economic success, and also to our national security.
Students shun these careers for a variety of reasons. Often students don’t receive adequate exposure to STEM related fields, especially those in the areas of technology and engineering, at any point in their pre college education. If they do, it may not be until late in high school, and even then, too often these fields are explored using the same old methods of lectures, textbooks and chalkboards that have been used for years, but which fail to engage the imaginations of modern students. The trick for educators is to find tools for introducing these concepts to students in middle school, high school, college and beyond, which nurture their interest in the subjects while at the same time providing an interesting and exciting way to learn. A great way to do is by introducing fischertechnik to your classroom.
fischertechnik, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is a unique and flexible construction system that has been prized by aficionados worldwide for over 40 years. At first glance fischertechnik might remind you of other constructions sets you’ve seen or used, but don’t be fooled, it’s much more. The core component of the fischertechnik system is unique building block, which allows attachment to all six sides. Used in conjunction with hundreds of different parts, gears, girders, sensors and more, the sets are specially designed to allow students to explore such STEM related areas as:
- Robotics and Programming
- Dynamics and Statics
- Renewable Energies
- Simple Machinery
…and much more.
fischertechnik sets are currently used in an ever growing number of middle schools, high schools, universities and colleges across the globe for helping students to explore and understand these concepts in a stimulating, hands-on manner. They are also an essential component of the Project Lead The Way program (aka PLTW) whose mission is to provide students in over 3500 schools across the United States with a rigorous and relevant STEM education.
This past January, Studica became the official distributor for fischertechnik in both the United States and Canada. We can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are to represent this terrific line of products. Not only do we carry all of the current fischertechnik products for education, we also stock over 500 spare parts, the fischertechnik training models used for industrial simulations, many hard-to-get items which are not available elsewhere, and of course the full line of fischertechnik Junior, Basic and Advanced sets geared to young builder age five and above.
In future blog entries I will give you more details on some of the individual fischertechnik sets and the concepts you can address with each, but for now I would like to share a few very cool videos with you. It’s one thing to tell you what you can do with fischertechnik, but it’s a lot better if I show you.
First off, here is an example of a Marble Sorter, which was constructed by students in the PLTW program as part of the ‘Principles of Engineering’ portion of their curriculum:
Next, here is a model of an industrial complex with a high bay warehouse:
And finally, here is one of my current favorites—a Firestorm Megacoaster model, as exhibited at the 2010 fischertechnik Convention in Germany this past September (video courtesy of Christian Knobloch):
Well that’s all for now, but as I said, I will post again soon with information on some of the specific fischertechnik items that are available. In the meantime if you have any questions whatsoever on anything fischertechnik related, please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
Author: Lance Zurek