Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dear Mom

Dear mom,
24 years ago you entered my life.... Or more appropriately, I entered yours. Throughout my life you have been my moral compass. I have always looked to you for everything. Whether or not it seems like I pay attention to your advice or if I actually know how to wash my clothes, I have always listened to you. Probably about 8 to 9 years ago I decided I wanted to be an engineer but your philosophy of the importance of teaching stuck with me. You taught me that education, no matter how smart you are, is extremely important and is the key to a better life. I relearned this lesson in college, but I know because of you I knew this all a long.

Today mom, you are retiring. After 38 years of teaching, longer than my life, you are retiring. I am just starting my career and I think I know so much. I cannot believe how much you must know. In laymans terms, you are a smart lady. Throughout my life I wanted to be in technology development, a job "on top of the world" and one that can truly reach millions. Yet, I find myself volunteering this year at a school, teaching kids. Mom, you must have taught me well.

I cannot speak for all the kids you taught over the years, but I can say that for me, your son, you have taught me that education is extremely important. Because education is truly the liberator to success and life. Mom you taught in the midwest, an area that isn't in poverty, starvation, suppression, or a minority, but mom, you made a difference. You allowed for countless students to be educated about family, taxes, common sense, and most importantly, life itself.

Many times I know you came home tired, stressed, and depressed, but mom, I can tell you that you made a difference. You made a difference. I remember many conversations with you ending in "kids are idiots! They just don't understand!!" but mom, I know they do. Maybe not now, maybe not in a few years, but they will. They will look back at your lessons and think about the lessons about life that you taught them and realize that, "hey Mrs. Nennig really knew what she was talking about."

Teaching is exhausting mom! I would have never understood this if I hadn't been in a school system for a year. Want to know a secret mom? I am sooooo tired after teaching one year. Suddenly all those naps you would take before making me dinner in my younger years is starting to make sense. You are a superstar.

I cannot decide if this is rambling or if it is speech from my heart, but one thing I do know mom is that you deserve a rest. Take pride in what you have done and what you have accomplished in your years of teaching, because I know I am. I was extremely proud to tell my teaching friends that my mom was retiring after 38 years of teaching. I might not be in education for the rest of my life, but I can tell you I will never forget what you and the education system taught me.

To say the least, you amazing. Thanks for serving 38 years. That's a lot of lives changed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This is a pretty short and simple blog post. Last week I had the honor to go to some of Google I/O. Unfortunately  because I had to still work during the day, I couldn't see the sessions live. BUT I did get to eat some food, meet some people, see a bit of the expo, experience new technologies, and go to a few after parties.

There is a lot of excitement for Google Glass, but not so much in the sense that most would think. It seems like glass technology will make a huge hit in the sports, adventure, and other crazy things you only wish you had a camera for. The thing that sparked my interest the most was for endurance sports. Currently, you wear a watch or have a head unit you put on your bike to see your stats of speed, distance, heart rate, calories burned, etc. What if though you never had to look down at your watch or head unit? What if you just glanced down slightly in your sunglasses? This is the type of product I saw at Google IO that really make me smile. I cannot wait for this to happen.

Along with that there was a ton of talk around Android and Chrome, actually that's basically all the conference was about. Despite the fact that Google Glass is their newest hardware, it really wasn't talked about in the sessions. As a Android Developer I was really excited about this and the features that they are rolling out.

As always you will find lots of pictures of my experience below!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Robot design

Once a month the 4th graders go to an art studio and work with a lady to create an art piece. This last Wednesday was their last day going for this school year. The art teacher asked them to do something crazy, make a robot. But not just any robot, a functional one, one that serves a purpose. I thought this was a cool idea for the kids and that they would use their imagination to make something exciting. Though it seemed like some of the kids got the idea, most had a really hard time with this concept.

 Many students thought a robot had to have a head, face, legs, and needed to be just like a human. I thought this was a very interesting concept, why did a child think that a robot that is built to do anything, have to be like a human? The only thing I could come up with is: they couldn't distinguish the difference between a robot and an alien. Theoretically, an alien, would be living, breathing (something) and need to preform many different types of functionality, and would have to consume nutrients in some way shape or form. A robot though is very much similar, but extremely different.

In many cases robots and technology are created for a very specific functionality. In most cases the use of arms, feet, touch, taste, and hearing, are not usually needed in a robot's design. If you are creating a batting robot, why should your robot need arms and hands to hold the bat when the actual arm could just be a bat? If your robot picks up trash, why does it need hair? Why does it need 2 eyes? Why does it need lips?

Most of the 4th graders could not find this distinction between robots and aliens, and they needed to have "humanized" robots. Most of their reasoning was because the robot was not "evil." Or "it needs hair because the people won't be scared of it." Craziness..

Technology design is designed around functionality, which is exactly the reason humans evolved the way they did, in other words "survival of the fittest." So what's the difference? Some would say technology is the next step in evolution and humans are nearly a catalyst for the evolution of the universe. It's pretty far out there but it has some merit. Never-the-less, here is some of the artwork from the 4th graders!