Educators try to lure youths to tech careers


Published: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 10:44 p.m.
MIAMI - Some education experts say they are battling to entice students into preparing for high-tech careers as many public schools fail to spur children's interest in engineering and science.
"We know that children as young as the third or fourth grade choose their career paths, and if they don't know what an engineer is, they won't want to become one," said H. Lynn Columba, an education professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
Columba and others spoke at a three-day conference in Miami organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to showcase ideas that professors are using to woo students to technology.
Iowa State University engineering professor Lawrence Genalo and Melinda Gallagher, a doctoral candidate in education, demonstrated their program for teaching engineering basics to children.
Called "Toying with Technology," it shows elementary school children how to program Lego robotic cars to perform basic tasks like moving forward, backward and turning around.
The key to getting children to experiment with this sort of technology lies in involving those studying to be teachers, who are often resistant because they lack expertise in engineering, Gallagher said.
Genalo and Gallagher said children were quick to pick up on programming their Lego cars using Not Quite C, which uses syntax similar to the programming language C.

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