The Museum of the American Railroad's STEM-based programs were well received on June 27th at this year's MindBender Academy in Frisco. The annual week-long summer camp, a public private partnership aimed toward encouraging careers in technology fields, took place at Frisco's Career and Technical Education Center.
The Museum of the American Railroad was invited to participate in MindBender and present past, present, and future technologies associated with the railroad industry. The Museum presented four program tracks to a total of 100 6th - 8th grade students from FISD schools. Topics included the production and use of steam from the Industrial Revolution up to the present; the role of rail and the use of modern technologies in the movement of freight; a presentation by DART on the operation and control of its light rail system; and an interactive presentation and experiment with Magnetic Levitation.
Students watched intently as Bill Blaylock, one of the Museum's presenters from Texas Instruments, raised steam in a miniature boiler, while others assembled a working mag-lev model with the help of Michael Sturdy, the Museum's Director of Education. Keith Andrews, with Information Management at DART, brought a fascinating industry perspective to the classroom, including career opportunities in rail transit. Valerie Norris, who heads up the Museum's educational program development, led a hands-on project that addressed the challenges of moving bulk materials safely and efficiently by rail. Each of the four tracks was a blend of instruction and hands-on exercises that typifies the MindBender experience. "We look forward to a long partnership with future MindBender Academies and the Museum of the American Railroad," said Peter Burns, a MindBender coordinator with Alcatel-Lucent.
MindBender 2014 was sponsored by FISD, Frisco Education Foundation, CoServ, Alcatel-Lucent, and Raytheon. The Museum of the American Railroad was proud to be one of the presenters, which afforded its Education Department to debut several program initiatives planned for introduction during the 2014-2015 academic year. Development of these programs is funded in part by the Ralph B. Rogers Foundation and the DGBB Foundation.