7 answers

How does STEM tie into any of the hobbies/volunteering you participate in outside of work?

Asked Fort Collins, Colorado

7 answers

G. Mark’s Answer

Updated

Pretty much all of them. My activities are much like anyone else's -- they involved some conflict -- either a task that needs to be completed, which might include simply relaxing or mowing the lawn, or some personal relationship issue that needs to be addressed. These are just normal, human things. And as I tell my students, every conflict that needs to be addressed is essentially a logical problem that can be met with principles from a STEM background.

We are all simply biological machines, and we obey the laws of physics. And engineering is simply the application of physical principles to these problems.

I tell my students that the Engineering Process is not something that is limited to fixing a car or building a rocket, but to everything a human wants to achieve -- from building a bridge to writing a song or poem to helping a sad friend find solace. These are all mechanisms that the wondrous power of the human mind can be applied to and just make stuff better stuff.

Zach’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Hi Augusta, I'm from Fort Collins also.

I write software at work to solve specific work related problems, but in my free time, I also use software to solve some personal problems. I enjoy working on some small embedded electronics to collect sensor data, like temperature and humidity, and draw graphs with that data. This is useful for me because I enjoy gardening, and sometimes plants will need more or less water depending on what the weather is doing.

If you think about getting good at building systems, connecting them together, and writing code and automation, or performing analysis, this can be useful in all kinds of aspects of life, both professionally and personally. For me, sometimes this means that if I get good at building computers, or computer networks at home, then sometimes that becomes very useful for jobs also.

Zach recommends the following next steps:

  • Practice a technical hobby that you enjoy.
  • Focus on learning things that might be just outside of your reach or knowledge, where you can continue building on that knowledge.
  • Find ways to answer questions that you have. Either books, meetup groups, local classes, internet classes or online forums.

Mary’s Answer

Updated Wilmington, Delaware
Hi Augusta, Great question! I actually turned a hobby and my enthusiasm to learn new things into a career. I love to code and wanted to answer complex questions with data. By attending 'meetups' (https://www.meetup.com) I was able to discover Data Science as well as supportive communities of individuals who were interested in coding. At first, I attended to take in as much information as I could and learn new skills (coding in different programming languages). I continue to attend meetups to both learn and teach. I highly encourage you to seek out like minded groups of individuals using a tool like meetup to both cultivate your interests in a supportive and relaxed environment.

Michael’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Augusta,

In addition to my work in a technology company, I have volunteered 5 years as a mentor in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. With my little, we explored our community as we learned together. On almost every one of our weekly hang-outs, we would combine knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math with our growing understanding of our community. In a million ways, STEM learning powers our world.

As a hobby, in addition to my volunteering, I enjoy learning about the structure of consciousness in our brains--how does consciousness emerge out of a mass of neurons? I enjoy reading books on the topic and watching countless videos online. It's a cool topic to bring up with close friends as we find meaning in our lives.

Michael recommends the following next steps:

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood and see how STEM helps build the world around you. From the design and construction of our streets, to the power grid that lights the way, STEM is all around you.
  • Ask your local city planning office if you can stop by and interview them for 30 minutes. Most often, they are willing to take a break and describe how they use STEM every day.
  • Think beyond the built environment. Today, I work in marketing for a tech company. I use behavioral science and math to guide my work every day. Even in marketing we use STEM. Stop by a local business and ask how they use STEM to run their business.

Devin’s Answer

Updated Astoria, Oregon

Hi Augusta,

For myself and many of my peers in the tech industry, STEM topics (especially programming languages) is a huge focus of local meet-ups and conferences. Is there a particular topic you enjoy outside of your education? It could be that topic has its very own monthly meet-up to talk about this topic, new discoveries, or recent projects that members want to share. These events can also sometimes be sponsored by the creators themselves, or companies within this space that utilize those technologies as well. It is a great way to meet like-minded people, learn more about your hobby, and seek out informations or possible careers!

Here is a great resource for finding meet-ups in your area - Meetup.com

Aditi’s Answer

Updated Foster City, California

Hello Augusta,

That's a really great question! I am an advocate and lead for Women Who Code local chapters and Girls Who Code in my area and I feel it very motivating to use my skills in STEM to help reach out to women like you who are willing to learn and get into the software world. I usually attend conferences or volunteer my time to help out at events that are STEM oriented. Learning about new domain like Cloud or learning in depth about new languages like React, I engage myself to keep aligned to my work but it is something I do outside of work to keep me aware of my domain of work.

Aditi recommends the following next steps:

  • My suggestion would be to participate and search for events that encourage you to learn things associated with your current work or future work that you might want to get into.

Charles M’s Answer

Updated Allen, Texas

Science

Technology

Engineering

Mathematics

Science and mathematics describe how the physical world works. If you have a good understanding of how the physical world works, then you are not confused by why things happen the way they do, or why things have to be done a certain way to be effective.

Technology and Engineering use the knowledge of how the world works to solve problems. If you can use engineering concepts and knowledge about how the world works, you can solve problems for people in your life outside of work.

Remember communication is important too. People who communicate well with others, either through verbal or written, will always be respected. It adds to the respect people give you if what you is is scientifically accurate. Meaning, "it works" the way you say it does.

I like to cook. I use STEM concepts in cooking like this. I measure ingredients accurately and consistency, like I learned in chemistry, This makes my dishes turn out consistent time after time. I also think about heat flow. When I want something to get hot faster, or stay hot longer, I plug the heat leaks so heat is not wasted. meaning, I put a lid on what I'm trying to heat up. When I want something to cool down faster, I think of how I can get the heat carried away faster. Example, I make 5 servings of oatmeal for breakfast for each day of the week, I want one of them to be hot when I eat it, but the others I want to have them cool faster. I cook the oatmeal and put divide it into 5 containers. I wrap the container I will eat that morning in towels including the bottom, so the heat does not leak out while I'm taking a shower. I put the other 4 on a wire rack, put them in a cool place like the garage, and even have a small fan to blow air over the top and bottom. This cools it faster. Getting the 4 oatmeal containers to room temperature faster reduces the work the refrigerator has to perform to transfer the heat from the middle of the oatmeal to outside the refrigerator, and saves a small amount of electricity and ewar and tear on the refrigerator (i.e. saves money).

When I thaw meat, I think, 'OK how can I do this in a way that will get the meat to a temperature higher than freezing in a shorter period of time, without allowing the meat to get much warmer than freezing , so the bacteria does not multiply very fast and cause food poisoning?' I completely submerge it into a container of cool water with a lid on it. This uses the heat from the water to warm the meat, but having it in a container with a lid, prevents the water near the surface from getting too warm too fast. I've seen some people who misunderstand how to thaw meat, and so they just put the meat in water, with half the frozen meat above the water line. I guess it's only half as bad as just thawing the meat on the counter, cause only half the meat has bacteria on it that are multiplying quickly. Also understanding that the rate of heat flow depends on the difference in temperature explains why frozen meat takes days to thaw when in the fridge where the temperature difference is very small.


Here's a You Tube video that combines all 5 concepts. STEM and Communication, in the kitchen. https://youtu.be/1OfxlSG6q5Y . The guy communicates how an understanding of the physical world enabled the engineers to elegantly solve a problem in the kitchen. Creating the Technology Connections You Tube channel was just his "sporadic hobby" until he got so good that people paid him enough to make it ". . . well, my job!" (taken from his description)

Charles M recommends the following next steps:

  • watch the video
  • learn how to think about the real world through STEM eyes.