Monday, August 26, 2013

Machines to Materials

I just watched two PBS NOVA shows that I must share. One is called Making Stuff: Smaller. The other is Making Stuff: Stronger. There are other Making Stuff shows I haven’t watched yet.

Check these out! You can watch them for free online (at least right now you can).

As an educator and a parent, these videos get me all fired up. Young people should be learning about cutting edge science and math, not just the stuff of textbooks and standards. I want to show these to students and then I’d expect to hear them talking about wanting to be a chemist, material scientist, or nanotechnologist when they grow up.

My favorite part of Making Stuff: Smaller was the concept of starting by using a machine to complete a task, and then evolving to using a material to accomplish the same task. This is a key feature of miniaturization, which is what allows us to have laptops and cellphones, among other things, today. Computer processing went from giant rooms of vacuum tubes to silicon chips, but the story I liked the most was the journey from behemoth pendulum clocks to quartz watches. If this makes no sense to you, watch the video.

Another awesome story in Making Stuff: Smaller is about driving a tiny robot around inside someone’s eyeball to deliver medicine. Holy cow!