On Friday, Sept. 27, Delran STEM coordinators Erica DeMichele and Mary Jo Hutchinson held a lab experiment and a meet-and-greet with author Paul Reynolds. In fact, the experiment was based on a book he wrote called “The Dot.”
The event and the book were both targeted toward Millbridge Elementary School students to educate the youth about the Fabrication Lab as soon as possible. The young students were able to meet the author and get their book signed, learn about the Fab@School software to design their own dot, die cut their dot using silhouette paper cutters, beautify their dot, develop a growth mindset and visit demonstrations on the laser cutters, vinyl cutters and 3D printers.
“I really love the idea that you can make whatever you want,” said student ambassador Scott Porreca. “For public events like this, you can bring people in and show them the tools to create and how being creative can pay off. I think that message overall is just really good for teaching younger kids, parents and adults.
“I think ‘The Dot’ is a really good book,” Porreca continued. “It focuses on a girl who doesn’t think she’s artistic. The teacher tells her to just create a dot and when the girl realizes she can make a dot, she started looking for other ways to be creative with dots. I think the book shows that if you think you’re creative, even with the simplest thing like making a dot, you can do more than what meets the eye.”
Part of getting the students to start learning how to create and becoming comfortable with creating includes teaching the students what a growth mindset is. According to Delran’s STEM coordinators, growth mindset is a concept developed by Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. It is the belief that a person’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through practice, hard work, dedication and motivation.
For example, a growth mindset is changing sentences such as, “I am not good at this” or “I am great at this” to “I am not good at this yet, but I will learn” or “I practiced and learned how to do it.”
However, a fixed mindset is the notion that intelligence and talent alone will lead to success. People with a fixed mindset believe these things are set in stone and cannot be developed or improved upon. They believe you’re either born with it or not, and nothing can change that. According to the STEM ambassadors, this is why it’s important to start kids off creating while they’re young.
“When you start young, I think it teaches the kids that their imagination is endless,” said student ambassador Adriana Puleo. “Whether it’s a dot on paper, a dot on wood, a dot using the 3D printer, they can make anything they want. I personally always liked to be creative and the Fab Lab was a cool way to take machines and create anything that I wanted. So now I get to teach the kids that they can do it as well.”