Building gas turbines with kindergartners???

July 22nd, 2017 by Emily Warnke

My internship experience has been amazing so far at Siemens Energy.  I have met so many people who do a wide array of STEM related jobs and seen first hand the manufacturing of enormous equipment that provides power to areas around the world.  Each day brings a new and different person to shadow and learn from and a new piece added to the puzzle to make this internship complete.  But, this reflection definitely resonates with me!  I have been tasked to provide a PBL unit for kindergarten based on my experience.  I always tell people, “Well, I’m not going to be building gas turbines with the kindergartners!”, but that begs the question, “How is this experience going to translate to the classroom?”

Some of the really neat things that I have seem have been more about how they do things at Siemens instead of what they do.  They have embraced the concept of lean manufacturing, basically, examining their manufacturing process to make it as efficient as it can be.  I can definitely see using Gemba board  type meetings and visual displays of project progress in my classes!  The idea that you spend time up front making sure that you have everything you need for a project will definitely translate to maker space projects and challenges.  Another principle that I look forward to taking to the classroom is the “quick win” I was sitting in a meeting one day when the Digitalization Assessment Team from Germany was presenting their process of basically copying what one department is doing well to another department.  The first time a student comes up to me exclaiming,”He is copying me!” I’m simply going to say, “No, he just had a quick win and thanks for helping him get there!”  That may be the simplest form of collaboration, simply allowing others to learn and copy your ideas.

The challenges that I have had in translating this internship experience to my project are definitely on the technical side.  This internship has definitely brought to light exactly how much I don’t know about the area of physics! I never took physics in high school or college so I have a major foundational gap when it comes to understanding all the products that Siemens manufactures. I have started looking into taking a basic physics class at the community college to help me understand simple things like electricity, basic circuits, magnets, and energy!  But, I am not afraid to ask questions and I have asked hundreds of questions over the last 2 weeks.  Even that part is a great teaching concept!  Somehow I need to impress upon the students to ask questions more.

Can’t wait for my final week of the internship and especially the time when I get to tell all the Winget Park students about the cool things I saw and did over my summer break!




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