Education/ Telstar Think Tank – Lewiston Sun Journal

Recently, Telstar Freshmen Academy presented projects to a board of interested people. I was one of them. Students, organized into self-selected groups of three, four or five people, put in a lot of effort.

They were asked to choose the main problem – climate change, homelessness, environmental pollution, disease – place – city, country – and plan a technical solution for this place and problem. (Avoiding mass social engineering; technical assistance to the homeless, not forming a society in which everyone will live decently.) Their plans and presentations should include models of the products they offer.

Among the places were American cities, Mexico, Japan, Bangladesh … What are these places, what is the nature and scale of the problem? Physical circumstances, focused thought: in Los Angeles, portable shower enclosures for the homeless don’t have to be hot; one less problem. In Papua New Guinea, oral vaccines can reach people far removed from modern medical services.

Solar energy appeared in many plans. Students know that burning carbon-based fuel is a problem in itself, not a good part of solving other problems: recreational boats, machines for handing out goods and facilitating communication and finding work for the homeless, model villages, all of which can be sunny . – food. Avoid power supply: use reverse osmosis, mechanical insect traps …

High-tech processes, carefully researched, can obviously produce a low-tech solution. 3D printed plastic and new, environmentally friendly concrete can become simple homes in Mali. Old technologies can be adapted: bamboo, which has long been used for many things, can become the basis of portable shelters. Redesigning can help: the homeless have long used wheelchairs; can they become mobile shelters?

Students will learn about society and science. And about working together: the members of the groups shared the work and supported each other. We seniors talked about what was missing at school.

Part of the panel’s work is asking questions. The students answered well:

“Yes, we thought about it, but it was not included in our presentation.”

“It’s interesting. Maybe we should…”

“It works that way (using their model).”

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

These students are well thought out and can think on their feet. Telstar’s task is clear: to make them think for another three years.

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

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