• Question: What does Cardboard, Scotch Tape, Copper Wire and a Spreadsheet have in common?
  • Answer: When put together, they turn an ordinary afternoon into an exciting and engaging experience for a dad and his two boys.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some quality with my two sons and share something very special with them. During the month of May, Microsoft retail stores across the country have been celebrating STEM education every Saturday by providing hands-on learning experiences that allow students, parents, and teachers to learn a little bit about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

During these 30-minute workshops, participants learn about how to take ordinary materials and with a little bit of Microsoft Magic create a Flex Sensor that lets them control a robotic finger with their own finger.

Teaching The Next Generation About Technology

On May 2, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the Microsoft Education Keynote where these special events were first introduced.  That night, a group of Microsoft Innovative Educators met with educational leaders from the Microsoft Education team at their flagship store in Manhattan to attempt to assemble these flex sensors.  It was quite a fun evening and I set a goal to bring my little guys out to try this with them. We attended a session in New Jersey at the Paramus Mall store which my boys found to be quite the playground.

Creating a STEM Lab Out Of A Retail Space

As we started the session, the Microsoft employ running the class, named Carlos was VERY knowledgeable about the demonstration and subject area.  Our session was attended by a few upper elementary and middle school students and their parents.  He first asked everyone if they knew what STEM meant and went into the details about how we were going to be creating our flex sensors.

Because I was trying to not only create my flex sensor in a hurry and work around two very hungry and impatient three-year-olds who were hyper from birthday cake, I moved ahead and Carlos was very quick to continue working with the group while taking the time to help me and my children.

The demonstration was held just inside the store, in front of their large glass windows where I noticed that several people who were walking the mall had stopped to see what was happening inside the store.

After I finished putting together the flex sensor (with only a few redo's), I wrapped the cardboard around my son's tiny fingers and watched their eyes light up when the sensor attached to the Surface Pro started to move.  It was a very exciting experience for them.

Talking to Mice As If They Were ….. WHAT???

Microsoft Store ManagersAfter our 45 minute adventure, I continued to give the kids the tour of the big store.  I was so impressed with how amazing Carlos was not only with the demonstration but with the way he treated and helped the guy with two babies, that I approached the two on duty managers and shared my experiences.  Little did I know that during this time, Robert and Christopher decided to play whisper down the lane with the Surface Arc Mouses.

Thank You For The Teachable Moment!

I am very grateful for the experience this week with my boys.  It's amazing for any parent to watch their child grow up and experience new things and when you have Triplets, it's always difficult to sit back and think that all of the precious moments for each of your kids is happening all at the same time.  Today was simply a wonderful experience for Christopher, Robert, and myself and I want to send a big Thank You to everyone at the Microsoft Store in Paramus, NJ.

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