IT SHOWS UP … EVERYWHERE

 

geometry

The formation of seeds at the center of a blooming sunflower. The unfurling of a fiddlehead fern. The columns and curves of Roman or Greek architecture. Math, science and art observe the Golden ratio.

I love nature and I love art. But, to be honest, I’ve never taken well to math. Algebra threw me off track and I never was coaxed back on. I was good in English. I think my teachers might have thought being good at one thing was good enough.

Not all teachers believe such nonsense. There are even students who get excited about learning complex, yet critical concepts like the Golden ratio. I had the good fortune to meet two such enlightened individuals and we talked about Phi — the divine proportion.

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CREATIVITY AND COMMUNITY

We dream in solitude, but opening spaces for creative collaboration may help us — as individuals, organizations and communities — realize the full potential of our dreams.

This idea is the foundation of a popular Maker Movement that is gaining global attention for its merging of old-style “tinkering” with emerging technology systems.

“The future economic and social landscape [will be] shaped by the Maker Movement.”

“We will for the first time be able to truly ‘race with the machine,’ harnessing the power of the machine to unleash and amplify our creative energies,” according to Impact of the Maker Movement, a 2013 report that suggests the movement could radically change manufacturing and retail industries as well as education and public policy.

The report predicts that “the future economic and social landscape [will be] shaped by the Maker Movement” and that “collaborative production will define the future of work.”

Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty see an opportunity to use maker spaces to help students relate the theories they learn in classes with projects they can enjoy making on their own.

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Lauren Rhodes touring Bucknell maker space

The ability to have an idea – even though you have no idea how to make it happen – to be able to walk in and maybe meet other people who could help you make it happen,” excites math teacher Lauren Rhodes.

She and other Penn College faculty and administrators visited Bucknell University to get an idea of how faculty there are encouraging student participation in the maker movement.

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CURIOUS CREATORS

 

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Participants in SMARTGirls initiative at Pennsylvania College of Technology

“If we have fun doing it, we might need to know, how does that work?”

Curiosity can inspire fun and creativity at every age. Andrea McDonough Varner — coordinator of the Williamsport Area School District Art Department — sees it happen in K-12 classrooms.

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Summer camps encourage creativity

“I think about eight, nine-year-olds that have this interest  … maybe it’s gaming, maybe it’s experimenting with science. We know that it’s fun; we’ve got the fun down. Then that inspired us to go out and seek the knowledge … If we have fun doing it, we might need to know, how does that work?”

College students often react the same way, according to Lauren Rhodes, assistant professor of mathematics at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

A “lifelong lover of math and art and music,” Lauren said students gain an increased appreciation for theories and concepts when they encounter challenges in projects outside the classroom.

In a video available now for online viewing, Andrea, Lauren and other educators share their thoughts about creating spaces for students to learn while doing.

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DEFINING A MOVEMENT

CERAMICS
Hands-on, creativity activity defines the popular maker movement

“It’s DIY with a tech edge.”

Do you embrace a “do it yourself” philosophy at home or at work? If so, consider yourself part of a global movement — the maker movement.

“Maker,” according to an Adweek article written by Joan Voight is “the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers.”

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DA VINCI STYLE MOTIVATION

“It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them,” Leonardo Da Vinci once said. “They went out and happened to things.”

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Leonardo Da Vinci self portrait

It is not only about what is happening TO you. It is about what YOU make happen!

What a great motivational message for children and young people who are learning to make choices and establish attitudes that will carry them throughout their lives.

Happy, successful people  choose to see their lives as interesting and fulfilling. It’s not what they do (because happy people are not all doing the same things); it’s how they feel about what they do that makes the difference.

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MASTER MIND – PART II

“As the material of industry has changed, and as processes have become automated, the greatest resource of any individual, organization, state or nation is the trained mind.”

More than half century ago, Dr. Kenneth E. Carl — one of the authors of the Pennsylvania Community College Act — underscored the human aspect of technological advancement in his statement that acknowledged the connection between successful industrial automation and the education of people who are required to do the work of industry.

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Dr. Carl (center) broke new ground in higher education

Dr. Carl portraitAs we celebrate the many ways that technology improves our lives, we must not lose sight of the fact that human intelligence is the foundation for innovation. Training minds to adapt to change and to lead future advancements in our society  is a significant challenge in education today.

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MASTER MIND – PART I

Technology changes the way we do things. Still, our minds are the masters of technology. To be successful in the 21st century, we must learn to master our minds through academic study and practical, applied technology.

Students, along with parents, teachers, guidance counselors and other mentors, also must consider the impact of technology on careers. Automation — made possible through technological advancement — has eliminated  some jobs while creating others.

What We Do for a Living in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, published by Pennsylvania College of Technology, takes an in-depth look at the modern world of work. I invite you to read the publication to learn more about viable career options, fast-growing occupations, and emerging workforce needs.

what we do for a living
Current workforce data helps students set career paths.

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WORD TOOLS

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Nick Stephenson leads class discussion

“It’s not just about making something look pretty or making something look trendy. — Nick Stephenson

“It’s not just about making something look pretty or making something look trendy,” Nick Stephenson tells his students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s graphic design major. “It’s about having something that really has an idea behind it … that’s really well thought out … a good solution to the problem.”

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INSPIRED BY PURPLE

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Flower of life from publicdomainpictures.net

I love purple! The color is a unique combination of exciting red and calming blue, so it catches the eye while offering solace to inspire creative thought.

Some color experts believe Leonardo Da Vinci disclosed the power of the hue when he declared the effects of meditation increased in purple light created by sunlight streaming through stained glass.

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Da Vinci statue from publicdomainpictures.net

Poets and writers love purple. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize and it is a treat to hear Jenny Joseph read her warning, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” (I love this poem so much that I still display a plaque featuring the entire work that I purchased decades ago!)

Kids love purple too. Inspired by a production of Harold and the Purple Crayon, children enrolled in the Robert and Maureen Dunham Children’s Learning Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology created original artwork featured in Working Class: Dream & Do.

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INNOVATION LEADERSHIP

GE Innovation
Student interns at GE Inspection Technologies

“The ability to creatively combine and apply various bodies of knowledge in new and more powerful ways is becoming of greater and greater significance. In other words, it’s not just about knowledge, but about what you do with it.”

I shared this insight by innovation consultant Todd Johnston in a recent blog, “Who Designs the Future,” after I discovered the quote in an Forbes article written by Victor W. Hwang. Johnston and Hwang, both based on the West Coast, offered kind words of support when I requested permission to feature them in my blog.

Across the nation, great minds are thinking about the role purposeful, practical innovation plays in creating new business opportunities and encouraging personal, economic and social growth. It is important that everyone embrace the idea that we all are in positions to lead innovation.

Knowledge originates outside of “think tanks” and corporate research and development departments. Creativity is not held exclusively by artists; it’s an option anyone can choose.  People who do things – in every type of art, craft and industry imaginable – turn ideas into action every day.

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Industry experts gather at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation and Resource Center

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