Geek Fun

When Fandom Love Meets STEM

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Right now is such a great time to be a geek. Fans can express their love of a fandom in so many different ways. Clothes and accessories can easily be found in stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Hot Topic. More diverse toys and collectibles are being released than ever before. Not to mention the plethora of amazing fan art offered at conventions and on-line. As well as the many fans showing their fandom love through unique, creative avenues.

In the past few years, my daughter has become a huge Star Wars fan. Her room decor, cosplay choices, reading material, and clothing reflect her love of Star Wars. She also loves science, technology, engineering, and math; better known as STEM. So when she decided to combine two of her loves for her science fair project I was not surprised. What did surprise me was the complexity of her project as she decided to build a Tie Bomber submarine.

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She began working on her project in January, almost a full three months before the district science fair. This project required her to learn to wiring, soldering, programming, and how to build motors. Things that she had little to no knowledge of before starting this build.

There were times where I truly was at a loss on ways to help her. Luckily, her dad is an engineer. Between her dad and his co-workers, they were able to help guide her in ways I never could. Though even with the guidance of trained, skilled engineers, there were many moments of testing and trouble shooting this project. The entire process was an eye-opening one for my budding engineer. She knew it would be lots of work going into it, but I don’t think she quite understood how much.

Watching her fail time and time again, was tough. As a parent, it is hard to sit back and watch your child fall all while trusting that it will all work out for the best in the end. Though when I saw her succeed, it made the failures bearable. From start to finish, each problem strengthened her problem-solving skills and with every success, her confidence grew. In the end, she successfully merged her STEM and Star Wars passions into one amazing Tie Bomber submarine that allows her to explore bodies of water from the shore with her tablet.

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Her Tie Bomber submarine is not just a fun toy. It has a few additional features that make it a research tool as well. With the help of an internal Raspberry Pi, WiFi connection and camera, this submarine allows the operator to view a live video feed with the option to record. Also, the programming for the controls was done in Scratch, so it was easy for her to adjust if needed. Stepping back and seeing her presentation at the science fair made me beyond proud of what she has accomplished.

A few years ago there were some boys that told her she didn’t belong in high math because she was a girl and she questioned if she was any good at STEM stuff. We told her she did belong and to just keep doing what she loved. She has come a long way since then and has proven those boys wrong at every opportunity she has had.

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This year she took 1st place in her category for the 5th year in a row. It meant a lot to her to win this year for two main reasons. First was because she was showing her fandom love. Second was because she worked harder than she ever had on a project. To win with a combination of two of her passions was everything. I look forward to seeing what my geekling does next.

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