Science fairs have been a part of our Canadian education system since 1962. Making dioramas, clay molds, and Bristol boards filled with colorful pictures and graphs - those were the days! These events are filled with activities for visitors, prizes, exhibits, and interactive technology. We even know one inventor who won the Canada Wide Science Fair in 1976… his name is Wayne Conrad and he is a jack of all creations at Omachron.
In recent years there has been a push for early - and increased - STEM education in schools. What is STEM? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It is also tied to STEAM, where the “A” represents the Arts. There is no doubt in our minds that each of these areas of study are a form of art in their own way. In more recent years, we have seen a push for increased awareness about technology, engineering, and math.
Let’s consider each of these fields individually. Merriam-Webster defines them in the following ways:
Science is “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method”.
Engineering is outlined as “the application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people”.
Mathematics is the “science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations”.
We can see how these fields are all interrelated, and in many cases, interdependent on each other to operate. Without math, we would have none of these. Without engineering, technology would be impossible to produce. Why are we placing such significant importance on these fields on our young ones? Because they are the future of education, manufacturing, and the job market. We are in an ever changing world where technological advances are taking over almost every industry. We are automating, evolving, and improving processes through the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Competitions for our youths have evolved into LEGO® building, robotics challenges, and open mathematics competitions. There is even a challenge for “Little Inventors”, our youngest school-age children, to come up with ideas to help reshape our world, invent new technology for space, and to reduce our energy usage worldwide. They’ve given them cutesy names like “The STEMley Cup Championship”, and “Codezilla”. A man named Dominic Wilcox challenged children across the United Kingdom to send him their inventions and selected 60 of them to turn into real prototypes. Some of the ingenious creations were based on their own life experiences, including accessible pay phones for people in wheelchairs, a fork with a built-in fan to cool food, and a camera operated by voice commands.
There are social media influencers such as “Science With Sophia” teaching children about energy, gravity, and microorganisms through the use of catchy songs and memorable experiments. Popular YouTube page Numberphile has interviewed hundreds of mathematicians who take interesting things from around the world and explain them in fun, colorful, and mathematical ways. They even explain math jokes! Children are curious by nature, and How It’s Made shows kids how classic toys like balloons, LEGO®, marbles, and many more are made, and in doing so, encouraging them to look even harder at the objects around them. The Slow Mo Guys create amazing videos, slowing down reactivity in motion to describe the mechanics of how things work on a level that children are able to grasp. They’re pretty funny too!
Google created an initiative called “Girls Who Code” which provides clubs, seminars, and workshops for girls from Grades 3-12. There are mentoring partnerships available for youth throughout the school year to learn from individuals with coding experience at no cost to the student.
Children have invented things that you may use every day. Louis Braille was the inventor of the Braille reading language at the tender age of 15. Blind himself by the time he was 5, he adapted a version of ‘night reading’, a written language made of a series of dashes and dots for soldiers to interpret at night. He published his system in 1829 and later added mathematical and musical variations. The youngest American to ever receive a patent was Robert W. Patch. His invention? The toy truck. All of our childhoods were somehow impacted by this! Philo T. Farnsworth was also only 15 years old when he dreamed up, and later made a reality, the television. Where would be today without that innovation? Benjamin Franklin invented “swimming fins” at age 11, George Nissen created the trampoline at age 16, and at the ripe age of 15, Canadian Joseph-Arman Bombardier made the world’s first snowmobile.
Each one of the aforementioned inventions were as a result of ingenuity and planning. UNESCO estimated there were 7.8 million researchers worldwide in 2013. In 2017, the Congressional Research Service stated there were 6.9 million scientists and engineers in the United States alone, representing less than 5% of the population. There is certainly a call for STEM innovations worldwide.
Plastics engineering is a field that encompasses all STEM requirements. It involves physics, chemistry, trigonometry, calculus, engineering mechanics, and polymer science to name a few.
We have a team that is compiled of people from all of these fields. We include engineers, tool and die makers, scientists, machinists, pattern makers, industrial designers, patent drafts people, and more. We work together to produce quality ABS, PC, HDPE, Delrin, CAB, and in 2020 we will be offering products like plastic wood, pavers, outside furniture, roofing, siding and many more other final products manufactured from 100% recycled plastic materials. The ultimate goal in all these products is to mold them from (as close as possible) 100% post-consumer mixed plastics that currently are going to a landfill. This will allow us to accomplish 2 ultimate goals: to help clean up the plastic waste polluting our environment, and sustainably manufacture products that people need. We actively support the future of manufacturing.