Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's the Point? Tupperware?

The invitation came via Facebook and Email.  A Tupperware Party!  With homemade apple crumb pie!  Sarah's a dear friend, and I have ancient Tupperware in need of replacement lids, for after more than a quarter century, the lids were cracked and torn.  And, after all, Tupperware is guaranteed for life.  

I've done the Tuppeeware thing for more than a few decades,  but this saleswoman knew her stuff.  I'm pretty sure the hostess purchased an oval modularmate to use as a burial urn for her husband.  I saw her measuring the mantle to make sure it fit.  It was a lot of fun, with many laughs, points tossed out like beads at Mardi Gras, that seemed to be as valuable as the ones Drew Carey awards on "Whose Line is it Anyway?"

Okay, I really went for the pie.

Today's Te@chthought Blog Challenge prompt of the day:  

How do you incorporate STEAM into your teaching? (Countries not using STEAM, feel free to reflect on Inquiry Learning and Teaching and how we make sure that Science and Tech etc aren't missed out).

So here's the deal.  It's nearly ten pm.  I've been home for less than an hour today, and bought more Tupperware than I probably needed.  But it's guaranteed for life, and the engineering behind this stuff is pretty darned impressive.  Tupperware has been around for 40 years.  (That piece of knowledge is worth 20 points.)  Oh, and bringing your husband to said party is worth, you guessed it, 20 points.  The thing about Tupperware is that in order to stay competitive, they've done a lot to reinvent themselves.  

Forty years ago, microwaves weren't used for much more than reheating - and a whole lot of people were suspicious of this new-fangled thing that might actually emit radiation that would make you glow.  Men "assumed the position" when cooking and standing near the humming contraption, doing their best to protect themselves, and their potentially future offspring.  Now, the featured item is something that goes from the space-engineered hot/cold bag with the multiple zippers that contain plastic cooking dishes that go from freezer to 485 degree oven.  (That information, I suspect, is worth 20 points as well.)

My husband volunteered to go to the party with me.  The motivation behind that gesture is still suspect.  Although I think he had more fun than he thought he would, he may not venture back to the land of burping seals for a very long time.  But he made the effort.

So how does engineering relate to Tupperware, men at Tupperware parties, and teaching?

Clearly you aren't thinking hard enough to make the quality connections.  

The same is true of our young females, who avoid our STEM (or STEAM) labs, or Technology Education teachers, and college recruiters in search of estrogen-enhanced brains to balance the overindulgence of testosterone in the STEM classrooms in colleges today.  

In my world, we work to try to identify the strengths of gifted kids and find challenges for them.  STEM interested kids are easy to enrich -- and when they're gifted FEMALE kids, it's even easier.

There are dozens of competitions, but a few that I've been involved with in the last few years include:

The biggest takeaway for me from all of this, aside from the fact that if you had told me yesterday that I would spend my evening at a Tupperware Party with my husband after he volunteered to accompany me I would have made some sort of snowball in hell comment worthy of etching on a calendar somewhere, is that the best thing any teacher can do is communicate and collaborate with people in departments other than their own.

There are art competitions, science competitions, technology competitions, robotics, and so many others that engage students in learning.  Many of them are Project Based Learning, in style, which has an added bonus, in my opinion.  Suggesting, working with, guiding, directing, or otherwise engaging students in attempting the research or competition necessary is often easier when there is an authentic audience to motivate the outcome.

Who knows?  Maybe it's points (doled out 20 at a time) or the idea of an authentic audience, or just the fact that those girls get to see the inner sanctum of the male equivalent of a Tupperware party in that Tech Ed lab.  Whatever it is, its up to us as teachers to find the motivation, collaborate with each other, and offer unique opportunities so that our world can continue to be filled with technology.

Some of which burps, goes from freezer to microwave, and causes people to bake apple crumb pie on a Wednesday to laugh with friends.

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