As a kid, did you ever feel like you had to wait until you were older to do something really cool, like become an inventor? The truth is, you can start learning those skills now, whatever your age. And the sooner you start on your journey, the better.
That’s the premise behind my award-winning Putney Hicks Inventor Adventure middle grade series. And it’s true. It’s how I became an engineer and inventor of a nest screen that is helping to save baby sea turtles from artificial lights on Hilton Head Island.
Inventing is just defining a need, then coming up with a solution: basic creative problem-solving. And it’s something many of us do every day.
Math is a powerful tool for inventors and engineers, because it allows us to model our problems and document our solutions so that we can optimize them. But kids (and many adults) aren’t motivated to master math because they don’t understand how and why it’s relevant to them.
For example, how do you design your ideal sit-upon? I know that some of you are asking what a sit-upon is. It’s something you take when you go camping, hiking, or sketching in the field to sit upon when you take a break. When I grew up, every Girl Scout made one. But ours were made of heavy oilskin with heavy newspaper padding. But that was yesterday’s materials. What about today?
How big do you want it to be? Grab an IKEA bag or trash bag and fold it down until it’s the size you want, then measure it. Now you’ve got a simple math model to define your solution.
How much padding do you want or need? What type? Will an Amazon bubble-wrap bag do? What kind of material do you want to use for the exterior? Something waterproof would be nice to keep the damp from penetrating. What about a recyclable grocery bag?
Now that you have the basic elements of your solution defined, you just need to make it and test it… or test a quick prototype first. Just fold IKEA bag or trash bag down to size and add the padding you want to test. Keep tweaking until you’re happy with the result.
Solving simple problems like this is how you learn to design and invent. These are skills you can learn through hobbies – learning by doing – and through story… because when we read stories, we store information in a way that allows us to retain and recall it effectively. We are wired for story. Stories change attitudes. That’s why I started writing STEM adventure fiction – to change attitudes about science, technology, engineering, and math – and inspire girls to discover their inner inventor.
Putney Hicks is a 12-year old girl who dreams of becoming an inventor. But first she has to survive middle school… and learn a bit about the magic of nature–butterflies, alligators, and sea turtles–along the way for inspiration. She has a cool hi-tech artificial intelligence side-kick to help out… sometimes getting her into more trouble. Think Nancy Drew meets MacGyver, with a holographic I Dream of Jeannie mixing things up.
Sound like something the kids in your life might be interested in?
If so, check out my books page here:
I’d also like to introduce you to my friend and fellow award-winning author / engineer – Tracy Borgmeyer, who writes the Halley Harper Science Girl Extraordinaire series. Check out Tracy’s books here:
For a limited time, we are offering our Readers’ Favorite award-winning first books in our series FREE through Saturday November, 5, 2022.
That’s right. Try our ebooks out FREE for a limited time!
If you prefer paperbacks, check out the brief book descriptions of the other books in our series.
Cheers & Happy Inventing!
Marsha Tufft, PhD
Engineer & award-winning author of the Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures series
Award winning STEM volunteer
P.S. Teachers and educators – both Tracy and I offer school visits, virtual and live in our local geographic areas. I’m based in Cincinnati, Ohio, with frequent trips to Hilton Head Island where my books are set. Tracy is based in Houston, Texas. Feel free to reach out to us for more information! We both have a repertoire of experiments we can lead, plus we speak from experience. I have 35-years engineering experience at GE Aviation. Tracy is a chemical engineer with experience in the petroleum industry, including work on oil platforms… and that commute is via helicopter!
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