Edutainment- Another way to inspire

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I am at the Bayou Regional FIRST robotics competition and am amazed at the NBA atmosphere of the event.  Filled with everything from the bleacher stomping “We will Rock you” to the sound system that gives you a second heart beat and team mascots cheering on the adrenaline filled crowds.  A bunch of wanna be engineers along with scores of families and friends that are excited by the 6 robots battling out to score the most points by kicking a soccer ball into a goal.  Today these future engineers and scientists are the rock stars of the Alario Center in New Orleans.  My hats off to the Stennis Space Center for their support of an outstanding event and inspiring our next generation.

 

There is much talk about the lack of a destination and how we need one to inspire our future generations but I think there is much to be said about making science, technology, engineering and math fun. Watching this crowd I think more will be inspired by their achievement in making a robot that will go to the national competition than a Mars mission by the end of this decade.  Yes there is a place for a destination but that is not the only way we can inspire.  We should not underestimate the power of mixing education with entertainment to attract our future workforce.  I know some will say that I’ve gone to the “dark side” but then again how many of us were attracted to the world of engineering because of the creations of Lucas and Roddenberry?

 

Edutainment cannot only inspire but it can also educate the world about the scientific and technical advancements we are making. Even though many are inspired by the amazing images from our technical achievements like the images from Hubble, engineers are not the best ones to share our discoveries and educate the public of our discoveries.  Just ask my family.  My thespian daughter can weave a tale that will keep us engaged throughout dinner while my tales may last through desert.  I like what Will Pomerantz , Manager of Google Lunar X-Prize, recently shared in his blog about the power of mixing the entertainment industry with our engineering discoveries, “Scientists and Engineers have fundamentally important and exciting things to tell the world about–but are ill suited to do the telling. By working together with entertainers, they hope to play to each group’s strengths, with the end result of conveying the key messages to an audience in an understandable way. To that end, the National Academy of Sciences is organizing events like last night’s salon, and even offering free scientific consultation to film makers and other entertainers who want to improve the scientific accuracy of their products.”

 

I believe it will take artists, entertainers, writers and the left brain people of the world to create the stories that will inspire and educate our nation.  It is images like the one at the right, from an artist that I continually get my inspiration from, Pat Rawlings, that will inspire a future entrepreneur to create the first Ivy league campus on the moon or for us Texans, a Texas A&M satellite campus near Tranquility base.  What engineer wouldn’t want to be part of this cathedral building project? 

 

What if we not only used robotics but video games as well? What are the other possibilities to inspire if we mixed NASA’s discoveries with the world of entertainment?   

 

Sharing the Vision,

Steven González, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office

 

14 thoughts on “Edutainment- Another way to inspire

  1. Victor Moraes Post author

    Very fun.

    I also believe you can still do many good things to reconcile science and entertainment. Much has been made. But we can still explore video games which simulate the construction and administration of a city on the moon or Mars, with all difficulties. Simulators Spaceships propelled, to give an idea of the effects of speed on the maneuvers. We will be happy if one day some rock band create a sound space with prophetic verses of a happy future in a whole cosmos of interlinked planets inhabited by countless human beings.

    The economies that NASA can do? His party, create, innovate and overcome difficulties. Perform glorious exploits. So it is that NASA will continue to inspire generations. NASA will be in front winning the infotainment follows as a result. A major achievement is a continuing need for NASA to keep in capacity expansion. Who was once the moon can not think small, he needs to think big.

  2. Bad Credit Cards Post author

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  3. Justin Kugler Post author

    I was actually thinking in much the same vein with the idea I posted to the OpenNASA portion of the Open Government Plan.

    http://opennasa.ideascale.com/a/dtd/33228-7044

    Given the widespread participation in social gaming and alternate-reality gaming, I think NASA could really reach a lot of people – especially in the younger generations – in a constructive and collaborative manner by developing a social gaming system that encourages people to think about how to solve the unanswered questions of space exploration and contribute to the public discussion.

    Jane McGonigal’s research and experience, I think, show us that it can be done. I think this goes beyond existing NASA-related game projects because it cultivates a broader community and engages people in real problem solving.

  4. FIRST Team 1477 member Post author

    I really agree with this! Great thoughts and a great piece of insight. I am a student, in Team 1477 for FIRST Robotics, and this really is how we feel. Hats off to you and the entire team at NASA supporting the FIRST Robotics Competition. It’s how we young ones learn.

  5. Brian Enke Post author

    Just found your blog – good comments. I totally agree about the value of edutainment and have been working towards this for years.

    About the FIRST competition, however, I believe you have one vital part of the story backwards.

    I’ve been a mentor for a FIRST robotics high school team for six years now… and most of the students moving through our program are highly motivated by the space program. The thought of a human bootprint on Mars excites them like nothing else. It’s this excitement that leads them to participate in great programs like FIRST, the next step on the road to becoming engineers and scientists years later.

    So rather than a replacement for human space exploration in terms of “motivation”, try to view FIRST as a continuation of that motivation. Without the former, you can’t have the latter.

    We would not have a FIRST program without students, and apathy is our greatest obstacle to recruitment. Let’s face it – it’s more socially accepted for teens to sit on the couch in front of their Playstation III all day. Without a vibrant space program going to exciting places like Mars, getting these kids off the couch becomes nearly impossible.

  6. KaiYves Post author

    Great blog, and I fully agree with the sentiment. I write stories about the space program here and there on various websites based on that premise, mixing fictional elements with reality to get people interested.

  7. andrienclark Post author

    I think, show us that it can be done. I think this goes beyond existing NASA-related game projects because it cultivates a broader community and engages people in real problem solving.

  8. Donny Gamble Post author

    This is great competition because it shows the future of technology. It is just all a matter of how fast it will hit mainstream.

  9. Video Game On Post author

    Video games have taught us how to drive cars, fly planes and perform surgery, why not teach us more. We learn by seeing and doing after all and what better way to convey that than a video game.

    This article has the right idea about mixing the talents inherent in
    left and right brain thinking to learn from the strengths of both. But we need the right content. Where’s the video game on teaching social responsibilities and how our daily choices have a real impact on the environment? Where’s the video game on how to generate public momentum to affect positive changes in our communities? Where’s the video game on fostering healthy personal and global relationships so men and women of all nations can communicate better? If there was a video game on these topics, would you play it?

  10. Video Game On Post author

    Video games have taught us how to drive cars, fly planes and perform surgery, why not teach us more. We learn by seeing and doing after all and what better way to convey that than a video game.

    This article has the right idea about mixing the talents inherent in
    left and right brain thinking to learn from the strengths of both. But we need the right content. Where’s the video game on teaching social responsibilities and how our daily choices have a real impact on the environment? Where’s the video game on how to generate public momentum to affect positive changes in our communities? Where’s the video game on fostering healthy personal and global relationships so men and women of all nations can communicate better? If there was a video game on these topics, would you play it?

  11. Chris Bagginz Post author

    Well spoken Steven!
    These days technological advance has let entertainment become increasingly engaging, stimulating evermore senses and emotions of the viewer. Technology in itself holds much fascination not just to engineers but also to the average person as long as the story is told in a way and through a medium with which the viewer can identify with.
    I would bet that there has been no better emissary than events such as the robot soccer to get people's enthusiasm in robotics flaring. The same can and should be applied to all fields of technology. Awareness drives engagement which can only be beneficial for our profession.

  12. Celvastin Post author

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