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National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Jim West Collaborates with NIHF-STEM Learners

Mar 12, 2010

Jim West, a National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee visited the learners at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® School … Center for Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) Learning on March 11, 2010 for a full day of discussion, brainstorming and idea-sharing.

Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame® in 1999, Dr. West is known for inventing the electret microphone. Over ninety percent of today’s microphones are electret microphones, and they are used in everyday items such as telephones, camcorders, and tape recorders.

As part of their problem based learning project for spring 2010, NIHF-STEM 5th grade learners were asked to generate ideas to help reduce the noise in their new school lobby. When Dr. West visited, these learners shared their ideas with him and listened to his thoughts.

Alexander Earlenbaugh, James Martin and Mark Rucker, 5th grade learners at the NIHF-STEM school, are exploring the use of rubber in their invention. The group said they want to use rubber because it absorbs the most sound. “It was so cool that we got to talk with Mr. West today because his invention helps people who can’t hear loud things much better, and he is a really good person to talk to about sound,” Mark Rucker said.

Dr. West said he values the opportunity to sit down with NIHF-STEM students and listen to their ideas because it’s an essential part of the progression of invention. “It’s all part of the learning process. When I don’t know something, I go to people who are experts in those areas and I get and use their advice,” Dr. West said.  “I don’t see any difference between doing this with young people and with peers. In both cases, it’s the expansion of knowledge. I’ve learned things here from the students and I hope my discussions with them have improved their knowledge as well.”

He also sat down with the NIHF-STEM learners to talk about inventing, the value of mistakes and how collaboration plays a key part in the process. “Never forget the mistakes you make,” Dr. West said. “They will teach you what not to do again. Mistakes are valuable.”

The session with students was broadcast live on Ustream.tv and a clip of the session is saved here http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5361872.

For additional information on Jim West, visit http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blwest.htm

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