We just returned from attending the big US News STEM Conference in Austin, TX. Needless to say, this was a great opportunity for us to connect one-on-one with many of the movers and shakers in the STEM education community, from curriculum developers and district heads, to executives from corporations like Shell Oil, and IBM.
Advocates of STEM Education
While they come from many walks of life, these folks all share a common desire to insure that as many students as possible become involved in STEM related studies, so that they can develop the necessary skills to take their place in the modern workforce, as well as being able to help develop the technological innovations of tomorrow.
But in case anyone still thinks that such skills are only required for those who plan on entering a field such as engineering, or working in a lab, we also had the distinct pleasure to speak with a man whose own career path proves this is not the case. This man is Steve Wolf. Steve is a major advocate for STEM education, as well as being an author, TV host, actor, and most notably, special effects and stunt expert with numerous film and television productions to his credit. His website notes that over his twenty-plus year career, he’s “been shot, set on fire, tossed from buildings, and thrown off mountains.” Steve has worked on movies with stars such as Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks to name but a few, as well as for noted directors like Terrence Malick. He’s also been the effects engineer for numerous TV shows and productions, including ‘Law and Order’, ‘America’s Most Wanted’, ‘David Letterman’, and ‘Whitney Houston: Live in Concert’. Steve was also the pyrotechnic engineer for the popular Discovery Channel special “What Destroyed the Hindenburg?”, in which several 80 foot scale replicas of the doomed air ship were built to test the various theories for why it met it’s fiery fate.
Famous fischertechnik Fan
Steve was as pleased to meet with us as we were to meet him. That’s because Steve confessed that he’s been a fan of fischertechnik since he was five. In fact, Steve makes a link between the things he learned working with fischertechnik as a youngster, and what he now does for a living. Building fischertechnik cable cars as a boy helped to teach him the principles he would later utilize when using zip lines in his stunt work.
The Science of Steve Wolf
Steve has written several books, including one called “The Secret Science Behind Movie Stunts & Special Effects”, which illustrate how scientific principles are used on set to create dazzling effects with fire, controlled explosions, or snow on a warm summer day. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy, and also to watch out for his new show “How That Works” on the Discovery Channel, coming this fall. You can find out more about Steve by visiting his website at http://www.stevewolf.info/, and you can also view his complete list of film and TV credits by clicking here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0937940/
For those of you who would like to know more about how STEM concepts are used to create the visuals you see in your favorite films , I’ll leave you with a special webinar recording from the American Chemical Society’s Extreme Chemistry Series, in which Steve discusses the chemistry behind movie effects.
Author: Lance Zurek
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