SLM wrote:Balsa Man wrote:... some (personal) perspective on how advice on this board...
I agree with Balsa Man’s perspective on how to use this forum. For the sake of continuing and expanding the discussion further, I would like to take this opportunity to add a few comments of my own and to solicit related comments from others, especially from coaches and mentors. Although this probably belongs to the “General Discussion” thread, for the sake of continuity I leave it here.Based on my observations over the past few years, I do believe high school students, and even many middle school students, have the capacity to learn and then put to use some of the core issues pertaining to engineering design in the context of SO engineering events such as towers, assuming they have access to right resources. I firmly believe students who take advantage of this kind of learning opportunities in high school have a competitive advantage over their peers in college and beyond. Your thoughts?
Very much worth discussing. Let me, to help that, bring over something from the gravity vehicle board ;
"...Why? Because the big question is, indeed, “does this really matter.” The question of “what matters?” is, I would suggest, is the first and most important question for ANY event. It is the “sharp point” of good analysis.
When the rules come out, read, re-read, ponder. Put into your thinking pot, and stir around, three things; 1) the basic physics/engineering (from what you know, and enough research to get a....working understanding, and quite possibly some “proof of concept” experimentation); 2) the scoring system (how is it set up, how does it work, what “pays off” more and less – run some numbers- what happens to your score when you change the value of the various factors by a bit?); and 3) building practicalities and time consideration - think things through – get a handle, best you can, on “what would it take to make?”/”how long would that take?”. The ramp shape question we’ve been discussing is a fine example - how much time would it take, first to figure out how to actually construct a ramp with a surface that follows a b-curve, then to do it? How much time would it take to do a flat one with a bottom transition curve? Is the time difference worth what it will get you in points? Are there other aspects where the same, or maybe less time will get you more, or equal points?
We’ve been discussing this same fundamental, “what matters” question/issue over in the towers thread. The time we (kids, coaches, event supervisors, etc.) have to devote to Science-O, and a particular event, is limited by the other time demands in our lives; “t” is a finite resource.
The more effectively you focus your time to what matters most, the better you are going to do. No caveat words here; simple and absolute truth. A key to that is figuring out what are red herring, and what are....good eating fish."
So, I couldn't agree more with you on the value and importance of problem solving skills - in the S-O competitive context, and that as a source and foundation for bringing those skills along with you as move into college, and then into the real, working world.
At the heart, really the foundation of, problem solving skills, are the "critical thinking skills" that allow good analysis; "grasp(ing) the fundamentals and be(ing) able to apply them effectively to solve meaningful problems."
Competitive advantage in college and beyond? Absolutely - big time. The payoff in college?- getting into the school you want, good grades, scholarships, the opportunity to take more/more advanced courses, the opportunity to get into undergrad reasearch opportunities, helping you get into grad school, or into a cool/fun/challenging/good-paying job. The payoff in the real working world? landing a good job - a job you want, and turning that into a successful career. Very much the case in the world of science and engineering, but I think it goes beyond; a well-honed, analytical mind, that thinks in terms and works in terms of problem-solving is a big advantage in any field, and in just about all aspects of life.
Focusing, then, briefly, to the competitive context of S-O, and the "real world" where engineers get jobs, two comments:
1) The constraints of competitive rules and time available are mirrored in the business and other constraints of the "real engineering world." How do you design a whatever so that it can be manufactured at a cost that will allow the company to make a profit (vs how to score the most points); how do you do that- say for a component of a larger project - in 60 days (vs how do I get it done before Regionals); how do I design it so that it will not fail, and kill somebody (vs how to make sure I get the scoring bonus for carrying full load)- the list goes on...
2) I can say for a fact, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills are a major thing we (a major consulting firm) look for in engineering employees - in new hiring, and in promotions. People with such skills well developed are pretty rare, and highly sought after; what more can I say.