Inspiration for Lego League: Dean Kamen

I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I got tapped by my boss at the last minute to attend the annual Science and Technology banquet at a hotel in Minneapolis.  It was a rainy April night — I mean REALLY rainy.  The traffic from 3M to downtown Minneapolis was downright hideous.  You get the idea.

After presentations by faculty and introduction of scholarship winners, the keynote speaker was introduced: Dean Kamen.  His talk fundamentally changed me.  He spoke of our problems as to why we are falling back in our science and math rankings worldwide.  His proposed solution was to energize science and technology activities in our schools rather than to demonize sports and entertainment pursuits.  In other words, he’s taken a play from their playbook in the creation of FIRST organization that spawned Lego League at the national level.

After hearing the talk that night, I started my mission to do my part to inspire science and technology activities with my kids and our school.  I approached Mr. Guthrie shortly after, and it was a pretty easy sell to create the partnership to start our Lego League at Shannon Park.

Given that our topic this season is about biomedical engineering (Body Forward), I am including Dr. Kamen’s recent TED talk.  It will give you a sense of the experience I felt that night with a keen focus on his current activities around engineering solutions for our veterans who are coming home from war in really bad shape.  Our battlefield medicine has become so effective that soldiers are now surviving wounds from war more frequently than in years past.  It’s both a sad and exhilirating story.  I hope you find it as meaningful as I did, and provide you inspiration to energize our kids through Lego League.  If we can inspire a young scientist, maybe they can contribute in efforts unimaginable to us today.


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I am a software lab manager in the Corporate Research Lab at 3M in St. Paul.

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