I talked with one of the librarians who brought the exhibit to ImaginOn, and I shared with her my long-standing interest in construction toys. As a result of this conversation, I agreed to write an essay about the history and importance of construction toys. This week the administrators at ImaginOn will post a giant version of this essay as part of the Tinkertoy exhibit. Over the years, I have collaborated with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library on many projects, but this latest project is the first time I have written text for one of their exhibits.
My involvement with our public library is but one of many examples of members of our English Department sharing their academic expertise with the general public. For the purposes of today’s Monday Missive, I will highlight the public engagement activities performed by JuliAnna Ávila, Alan Rauch, and Greg Wickliff, but I am aware of other examples that I hope to highlight in future Monday Missives.
JuliAnna has an expertise in digital storytelling, and she has been publishing on this topic since 2008. Recently, however, she has become involved with several community projects in which she is drawing on her expertise in this area. For example, she is participating in the Lumbee tribe’s project called Unlocking Silent Histories. This project involves an extensive digital storytelling program. She is also joining forces with Tisha Greene, the principal of the Oakhurst STEAM Academy in Charlotte, to implement a digital storytelling into their curricula. As part of her public engagement work in this area, JuliAnna is creating opportunities for our English Education students to participate in these projects.
Alan’s public engagement activities often relate to his scholarly interest in the relationship between literature and science. A recent example is tied to his role as a member of the Advisory Board of the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature at University of Florida. As part of his involvement with the Baldwin Library, he helped curate an exhibit of books about science written by women for children between 1790 and 1890. Titled “Subverting the ‘Natural Order’: Women and Science,” this public exhibit showed how women contributed to the advances in scientific knowledge during the nineteenth century.
As these examples demonstrate, our English Department can be seen as a hub off of which there are many spokes extending in different directions. I find it intriguing that this description applies equally well to the design principle behind Tinkertoys.
Greg Wickliff recently participated with his wife, Alisa, in the STEM education learning festival at Ludwigsburg University in Germany on July 19th. In Germany, the STEM acronym is MINT: Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaft und Technik. The learning festival brought together hundreds of elementary and middle grades students, their teachers, and students and faculty of the university for a day filled with workshops and exhibits.
Quirky Quiz Question — Tinkertoys were very popular during my childhood, but nowadays the most popular construction toys in the United States are Legos. However, Legos did not originate in the United States. Does anybody know what country gave the world Legos?
Last week’s answer: Charleston, SC
Does anybody know what city in the South serves as the setting for the opera Porgy and Bess?