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What Was Your “Aha Moment?”

2011 March 3

By Lina Younes

This past weekend I accompanied my daughter’s team to the Maryland Junior First® Lego League Expo at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  Teams comprised of 6-9 year olds from across the state participated in the expo. This year, teams had the challenge to build their projects focusing on biomedical engineering. It was interesting to see how the children approached the challenge with those little blocks.

My daughter and her teammates developed their display showing how prostheses are used to replace missing body parts. Not only did they research the origins of prosthetic care, but they also built some prostheses of their own and a mobile hospital as well. I even learned something when I saw their display. I didn’t know that the early prostheses date back to over 2600 years BC!

As part of the expo, a surgeon spoke about the advances of using robots in the operating room. The children seemed fascinated by the use of robotics in medicine. When the surgeon asked if the children were interested in biomedical engineering, many hands shot up! I wonder how many of the children were able to make the connection between their hands on activities and technological innovations. I wonder how many realized then and there that they wanted to pursue a career in the sciences. While I always try to encourage my youngest to participate in those activities where she will learn about sciences or the environment,  I’m curious as to what actually will be her “aha moment?” What lights that spark in people? What gives someone the insight that they want to dedicate their lives to a specific activity or profession? What makes someone want to protect the environment? Sometimes it is a special hiking trip, sometimes it’s a walk in the park, a special teacher, a loving grandparent. What was your aha moment? We would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Janet Irma Monteros permalink
    March 3, 2011

    Hello Lina, I am an attorney and my aha moment came in highschool.

    I am fairly long in the tooth, so to speak, so back in my day women were relegated to teaching or nurses. I came from a very traditinal Mexican American background where the women were expected to go to college to find a good husband, it never entered my mind to aspire to be an attorney…until one day in highschool where I had attended a planning meeting for a Future Teachers of American chapter in my highschool. I was trying to start one up…then into the room came a lady, who was very, very pregnant. She proceeded to convene an unrelated meeting and identifed herself as an attorney. I was awed and excited about the concept…I had never envisioned myself as an attorney, because I had never met a woman attorney. That is my aha moment.

    The story does not end there, I have always loved engineering, electrical concepts, etc (I am a Tesla devotee) My next aha moment is thinking about going BACK to school for an electrical engineering degree…so I can tinker away with those concepts and, most importantly, in my 60′s start teaching children, encouraging children to go into the sciences and engineering…after all, we are so blessed in this country those of us in their 50′s and 60′s should not even think about retiring, the word is “re-tooling” we need to hoist our grandchildren on our shoulders with the science education that they will need to compete in this global economy…it’s a new world and those in my age group need to take it by the horns and use their gifts and talents to trailblaze the way for our grandchildren!!

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    March 3, 2011

    Janet Irma,
    What a wonderful story! I hope you pursue your dream of becoming an electrial engineer. Who says we every stop learning! You are right, so much depends on finding a role model and many minority children might not even think of pursuing certain careers because they simply don’t see anyone that either looks like them or they feel that they can relate to. Look at it this way, you already are a role model for many young Latinas who may aspiring to become an attorney one day. Think of it, now our young Latinas can see someone like them on the Supreme Court!

  3. Anthony Leteri permalink
    March 3, 2011

    My ‘aha’ moment came while I was working my way through college picking up garbage at business locations. One day I looked at the pile of garbage I dumped at a landfill and thought ……what a waste of our natural resources. That was forty three years ago. Today we own a waste recycling facility and bottle & can redemption center licensed by NY State DEC. We have recycled million of pounds of material over the years.

  4. Lina-EPA permalink
    March 3, 2011

    Go green! Thanks, Anthony, for your comment. Glad to see how one person can make a difference. Thaks for sharing your “aha moment.”

  5. Joyce Worth permalink
    March 3, 2011

    My “AWA” monent is when I saw the bass jumping up in the water to try and get the insects flying around alread, an to see all the different birds that come to by bird feeders.

  6. Lina-EPA permalink*
    March 3, 2011

    Joyce,
    That’s great. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    March 6, 2011

    I got interested in environmental concerns first when the Santa Barbara oil blow out happened in 1969 and then had them reinforced when the Orange Freeway was built without concern for its impact onthe environment as a stream flowing about 2 blocks from where we lived was completely concreted over and wiped out. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  8. Lina-EPA permalink*
    March 6, 2011

    Michael,
    It’s interesting to see what has been everyone’s “aha moment.” Thanks for sharing and staying commited to environmental stewardship over the years.

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