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A STEM-friendly environment


I grew up in a family that encouraged education and learning, both technical and hands-on. One grandfather taught technical classes, including teaching some army classes about radio back around the end of World War 1. My dad's basement workshop included wordworking and metalworking equipment, and I still have a toolbox and tools received as presents when I was young. My dad worked at a research institute as well, so I saw things like lasers and an electron microscope, provoking my interest at an early age. I was also an avid reader of both science fiction and biographies, particularly of scientists and inventors. Both provided inspiration for exploring new ideas.

I also credit the space program and some excellent public schools and teachers for encouraging my curiosity. I've attached a photo of a multimedia project a friend and I made in Junior High School, about the space program. (I described this project in a comment on my matrix lightbulb display project post.)

I think growing up in the 1960s and 1970s also was somewhat of a golden age. Many parents at that time had lived through the depression, developing an appreciation for making things yourself out of necessity/frugality. And many of the toys of the era reflected a building/making bent. I had toys that let me explore vacuum forming plastic, casting plastic, printing, building, and even a combination drill/lathe/scroll saw that, while quite limited in power and precision to meet the constraints of toy pricing, still encouraged creative work.

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