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Sean Russell's Podcast
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May 10, 2013 06:52 AM PDT

An animal lover, Salila is disturbed to find a turtle in a polluted area of water near her home in India. Salila's mother, an environmental engineer, and Dr. Ashok Gadgil, a scientist, help Salila learn about water pollution, microbes, and the ways that water can be purified.

With this information, Salila begins to think about ways that she could filter pollutants out of water. Will she be able to design a filter to help her create a pollution-free habitat for her turtle?

May 10, 2013 06:38 AM PDT

An avid gardener living in the sunny Dominican Republic, Mariana is stumped by a change in her new plant. The plant once grew delicious berries, but now Mariana can't seem to get any more berries to grow.

With the help of Mariana's Tía (Auntie) Leti, an agricultural engineer, Mariana soon discovers the problem: her plant is not well-matched to its new surroundings, and lacks a pollinator. How will Mariana solve this difficulty? With Tía Leti helping her explore the challenges of maintaining balance in natural systems, as well as introducing her to the engineering design process, Mariana soon discovers the sweet rewards of agricultural engineering.

May 09, 2013 08:27 AM PDT

Michelle and her older brother, Tim, play on a hockey team together. Tim is one of the best players and Michelle (who has Down Syndrome) usually doesn't mind getting help with hockey from her brother. Michelle contributes to the team in her own special way: by making a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award out of play dough, which is given to a team member after every practice.

When Coach tells the team that they have the chance to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play in a professional hockey game, everyone is excited--but they need to raise a lot of money to buy the tickets. The team needs a great sales idea for their booth at the school fair, and Michelle's play dough might be it. With some help from her Uncle Adam, a chemical engineer, can Michelle become the team's MVP by creating a fun, easy-to-follow play dough process?

May 07, 2013 07:49 AM PDT

Lerato, a young girl from Botswana, has been newly charged with caring for her younger brothers and sister. As she struggles to handle these new responsibilities, she becomes more and more convinced that she will never get to attend University.

When Tsoane, a friend of Lerato’s older sister, returns from University, Lerato learns about the field of green engineering. Tsoane gives Lerato a solar oven—a simple green technology that captures heat and light energy from the Sun to cook food.

Lerato involves her brothers and sisters as they work to design an insulation system for the solar oven. Using what they know and learn about thermal insulators and conductors, Lerato and her siblings are able to successfully design a solar oven that meets their cooking needs. When Lerato’s older sister and grandmother hear about this successful engineering endeavor, they convince Lerato that University is not such an unattainable dream after all.

May 06, 2013 11:12 AM PDT

Emily and her family live on a station (or ranch) in the Australian outback. Although Emily loves the sheep that belong to her family, filling their water trough every day is one of her least favorite chores. When Emily chooses to practice jumps with her horse, Flash, instead of filling the trough, she gets in big trouble with her mum.

Inspired by her neighbor, Pete, a retired electrical engineer, Emily realizes that she could make sure she does her chores on time by creating an alarm to remind her. With Pete's help, can Emily engineer an alarm to prove to her family that she takes her chores seriously?

May 06, 2013 07:02 AM PDT

Azuki Toys, the shop Hikaru’s family owns, has fallen on hard times, now that a new toy store has opened across town. Hikaru wants to help make things easier for his parents by working in their store, but they’ve told him that studying for his middle school entrance exams is his top priority.

When Hikaru visits his neighbor, Mrs. Takamaru, he learns of a transportation engineering project she’s working on—a maglev train system. Hikaru begins to wonder if he and his friends might be able to use a similar technology to draw customers to Azuki Toys. Can Hikaru and his friends create a design to save the family store?

February 25, 2013 08:31 AM PST

A potato chip lover, Aisha begs her older brother Malcolm to bring her to the potato chip factory where he is an industrial engineer. Malcolm agrees to take her, but only if she and her cousin Tanya complete their summer project for school. Taking them on a fun-filled simple machines scavenger hunt through Boston, Massachusetts, Malcolm helps with their school project and prepares them for their trip to the factory.

By visiting the potato chip factory, the girls learn how simple machines and the design of industrial systems make work safer for laborers. The trip inspires the girls to create a simple machine system of their own.

February 25, 2013 08:28 AM PST

Galya and Natasha may be identical twins, but nearly everything about them is different. Natasha loves being outside and looking for stones to use in her jewelry making. Galya would rather be inside curled up with a good book.

The summer plans of both girls are turned upside down when their mother’s work as an archaeologist brings them to Lake Onego, several hours away from their home in St. Petersburg, Russia. When they discover a replica of an ancient carving—a petroglyph similar to those their mother studies—their interests begin to merge. With the help of Mila, a family friend and materials engineer, they explore different ways to create their own replicas. The girls realize there is a lot to learn about the engineering design process. . . and about each other.

February 25, 2013 08:09 AM PST

Yi Min, a young girl living outside of Beijing, China, has a problem. A hungry bunny has started munching on the plants in her classroom garden. A trip to the Great Wall of China inspires Yi Min to enlist the help of her friend Chen in building a Great Wall of their very own.
Grandfather, a former materials engineer, tells Yi Min about the materials he developed in his work. Yi Min begins to explore the properties of earth materials, and she realizes that not all materials are created equal when it comes to building a wall. Together, Yi Min and Chen design and build a bunny-proof solution for the school garden.

February 25, 2013 07:59 AM PST

Juan Daniel and his friends can hardly wait for the neighborhood fútbol (or soccer) championship. However, when Juan Daniel hurts his arm during the game, he ends up watching most of it from the sideline. While there, Juan Daniel finds a frog hopping around the edge of the dusty field, far from its natural habitat. The frog inspires Juan Daniel to overcome his injury and lead his team to victory!

After the game, Juan Daniel realizes that the frog is in need of help. The frog's skin is a membrane that needs to be kept moist in order for the frog to survive. With a little help from a bioengineer visiting Juan Daniel's village in El Salvador, he works to create a model membrane to save his fútbol frog.

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