Contributed by Pam Schumacher, Mechanical Engineering Technology Instructor – Globe University
Last weekend I went to see Oz, the Great and Powerful with my two tween daughters. We were all interested to see the origins of the Wicked Witch and how the Great and Powerful Oz got to be in the land of Oz. I was pleasantly surprised with the movie because the people who saved the day were the Tinkers of Oz – ie. ENGINEERS! When Oz finds out that the people of Oz are not warriors, he decides to use prestidigitation (sleight of hand or illusions) to beat the wicked witch sisters in the Emerald City. The Tinkers (people of Oz who build things) helped Oz create a movie projector, screen of smoke and fireworks to create the illusion of the Great and Powerful Oz.
This is not the first Disney movie that has Tinkers – in the new series of Disney Fairies movies (starting in 2008) we find out that Tinker Bell’s name is actually Bell and she is of the Tinker class of fairies. The Tinkers are fixers and builders of the fairy society – ie. ENGINEERS! In the 2008 movie, Tinker Bell helps the Garden Fairies by inventing machines to quicken the process of decorating flowers, ladybugs, etc. There have been 4 Disney Fairies movies since 2008, with another one coming out in Spring 2014.
These movies, as well as many others, can inspire young people to be creators and builders. The important thing is that we watch the movies with our children and discuss them. As parents, we need to spot opportunities to talk to our children about the importance of science, math and engineering. If they learn the importance and wide variety of the STEM fields, our children might be more open to studying and choosing professions in those fields.