Team Through My WindowLook at engineering education through a new window.

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Start at the beginning.

Aug 13, 2013 | By: Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh

Start at the beginning. thumbnail

My father gave me lots of good advice during my childhood.  Actually, he gave me lots of advice—in retrospect, most of it was good, but certainly unappreciated at the time.  It’s funny how the years have a way of changing that.  I wish I could tell him that now.

Two particular pieces come to mind as I write the first blog for this website—my first blog ever, by the way.  The first is “always start at the beginning”; the second is “you can’t measure success based on where you are, but only on where you started”.  These may not be the most profound words ever uttered—or even original—but I repeat them often to my children and students.  They make sense to me.  And it recently occurred to me that they are right on the money when it comes to the labor of love we call Through My Window.

Through My Window

While our current work represents an evolution of ideas and efforts over the last five years or so, this is truly a beginning for Team Through My Window.  We are a group of engineering educators, education educators, writers, artists, and students from Smith College and Springfield Technical Community College.  In fits and starts, we’ve successfully arrived here—at a real beginning, a threshold of sorts—and will soon officially launch our new engineering education website.  It’s called Through My Window, and it's a multimedia experience which applies innovative educational approaches to engineering in online learning journeys full of beautiful visuals and lots of interactivity.  It's engineering education designed for children and young teens—a group for which such resources are particularly lacking—that will improve understanding of engineering and attitudes about it.  

Talk to Me

Through My Window is being developed in two distinct phases.  The first is called Talk to Me.  A young adult mystery novel of the same name provides the story line for this phase, and this novel is accessible to all on the Through My Window website.  The novel’s characters—Sadina, Catalina, Rio, Paulie, and Sadina's little sister, Maddie—team up to prove Sadina's mother is innocent of a crime.  Their experiences working as a team and the specific challenges they overcome to achieve a solution parallel the real-world experiences of engineers in design, ethics, and artificial intelligence.  The story line and associated engineering concepts are further explored and expanded in a graphic novel and online learning journeys that allow learners to interact with the characters as active participants in the narrative.

Our Story and Yours

Story is critical to our project design, and we will explore this much more deeply as we “blog on”.  Suffice it to say that this blog introduces our story—our team story, our project story—and we are thrilled to share it with you.  We will feature various team members as bloggers, each contrbuting to the project story in interesting ways.  We are eager to hear your stories, too, and this forum will be one way in which we hope to establish meaningful lines of communication.

A New Window

There is much, much more to come in the months ahead.  Exciting new additions to the Through My Window website, such as new learning journeys and a second novel, are under development.  We are working with select afterschool programs to develop innovative ways of collaborating with and supporting informal educators as they introduce Through My Window to their students.  We look forward to working with you, too.  

The term "new beginnings" is somewhat redundant, but, in this case, very appropriate.  We are at the start of something new—something fresh, innovative, and cutting-edge.  It is unique among educational resources—nothing like it exists.  Through My Window will change the face of engineering education.  And we want you to begin this journey of change with us.

So, thanks for swinging by our blog.  Let us know your thoughts below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Contact us at any time for more information.  We are anxious to hear about your beginnings and your successes, about your hopes for your students and programs.  Tell us your story.

Comments

By Laurie Sorensen on Oct 08, 2013

Fantastic blog and great intro to the website! 

Thank you, Laurie!  We appreciate your support!

By Dr. Linda Meccouri on Oct 09, 2013

Thank you so very much for this extremely important work.  I give my highest recommendation to this team and work for the advancement of Engineering education.  Beth, you are a hero!

Linda

Linda, thank you for your very kind words!  We continue to value your input and encouragement on this project!

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From the Through My Window Video Library

Educator Testimonial: Ellen Stewart

See what Ellen has to say about how Through My Window worked in a Bridgeport, CT program!

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1223868 and 1223460.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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