Friday Jan 27, 2023

Education/ Telstar Think Tank – Lewiston Sun Journal

Recently, Telstar’s Freshman Academy presented projects to a panel of interested people. I was one of them. The students, organized in self-selected groups of three, four, or five, had put in a great deal of effort.

They were asked to choose a major problem – climate change, homelessness, pollution, disease – a place – a city, a country – and plan a technical solution for that place and problem. (While eschewing massive social engineering; technical help for the homeless, not shaping a society that houses everyone decently.) Their plans and presentations should include models of their proposed products.

Places included American cities, Mexico, Japan, Bangladesh… What are these places like, what’s the nature and scope of the problem? Physical circumstances, focussed thought: in Los Angeles, portable showers for the homeless needn’t be hot; one less problem. In Papua New Guinea, oral vaccines can reach people far from modern medical services.

Solar energy featured in many plans. The students know that burning carbon-based fuels is itself a problem, and not a good part of solutions for other problems: recreational boats, machines to dispense goods and facilitate communication and job-finding for the homeless, model villages, can all be solar-powered. Avoid energy-heavy operation: use reverse osmosis, mechanical insect traps…

High tech processes, carefully researched, can produce an apparently low-tech solution. 3D printed plastics and a new, environmentally friendly concrete, can become simple houses in Mali. Old technologies can be adapted: bamboo, long used for many things, could be the basis of portable shelters. Repurposing can help: the homeless have long used shopping carts; can they become mobile shelters?

Students learn about societies and science. And about working together: members of the groups divided the work and supported each other. We older folk talked about what we had missed in school some time ago.

Part of the panel’s job is asking questions. Students answered well:

“Yes, we thought of that but it didn’t get into our presentation.”

“That’s interesting. Maybe we should…”

“It works like this (using their model).”

“It’s a problem we haven’t solved, but we’re working on it like this…”

These students think things through and can think on their feet. Telstar’s task is clear: keep them thinking for another three years.

David R Jones really enjoyed playing a small part in this activity.

Related Stories

Latest Articles

  • The Bethel Citizen

  • Advertiser Democrat

  • The Bethel Citizen

  • The Bethel Citizen

  • The Bethel Citizen


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top