How do you get kids excited about engineering?

Austin Science & Engineering FestivalAt this past weekend’s Austin Science & Engineering Festival, we learned how to spark kids’ interest in science and engineering. Make it fun!

Dell was a Gold Sponsor of the Festival and kids got hands-on experience with interactive demonstrations at the Dell booth. We also had drawings for two free Dell Inspiron Mini netbooks. The Festival was open to the public and free-of-charge, and attendance was strong both days.

The booth was a big hit with the attendees, who ranged from middle-schoolers to kids as young as 3 years old, and their parents. We had a lot of fun relating some (fairly complex) engineering concepts to the kids in our three interactive demonstrations.

Kids got hands-on experience at the “show-and-tell” server demonstration, “Looking under the hood of the computers that power the Internet,” with help from Dell engineers, David Morse and Cristina Marinelarena.

At “Get an inside view of high-end computer gaming systems,” Dell’s Deonte Thompson showed the types of engineering that go into Alienware gaming systems, and how fun it is to play games using the results.

For my part, I demonstrated Dell’s 3D projectors. 3D capabilities in the projector can make an enormous impact on the education of students. 3D provides a more immersive learning experience and enables higher information retention rates, leading to higher test scores. In a government-funded study in Rock Island, Illinois, test scores improved by 35% when students were shown the material in 3D, and student conduct issues during classes where 3D was used dropped to nearly zero. This is a great boon not only for teachers, but also for parents and the students themselves. Plus it’s just really cool to see stuff in 3D.

I think the kids agreed! All of us at the Austin Science and Engineering Festival were encouraged by their enthusiasm and interest. We look forward to welcoming the next-generation of scientists and engineers.

About the Author: Alex Shows

Alex Shows is a member of Dell’s Technical Staff and Lead Performance Engineer for Client Systems. His role is to ensure platforms deliver the best possible performance within the constraints of their design, working with System Architects and Platform Development Engineers to deliver best-in-class platforms that delight customers and stun competitors. He is also the Chair of the SPECgpc group, developer of the widely used SPECviewperf benchmark. Outside the office, he volunteers his time as a Cub Scout Pack leader and the WatchD.O.G. program. He’s an avid reader, runner, and lifelong learner.