What Was Your “Aha Moment?”

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.

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