Table Top Inventing Podcast

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

In This Episode

Jonathan Schwartz - Table Top Inventing Podcast

  • Join us for the interesting plot twists in today's podcast.Can shop class make kids better at math?

  • What thinking skills are learned in a shop class?

  • How exactly does a professional kayaker become a math teacher?

Welcome to the Table Top Inventing podcast. We took a much needed one week break from the show last week, but we're back at it this week with a power-packed show. Today we're tackling the topic of shop class from a very compelling angle.

Over the last 10 years, shop classes such as wood working, auto shop, welding, and other classes have disappeared from almost every school in America. With the university focus toward intellectual property, engineering, and cutting edge science, high schools just stopped teaching these classes...

but at what cost?

The overwhelming feedback we keep getting on this podcast from successful professionals is the need for hands-on training. Yet in school, where else do kids get hands-on training if not in shop class? "Robotics!" some say, or "Engineering classes," others say. My experience in those classes is that the curriculum is so scripted that very little original thinking occurs.

However in shop class, students are forced to grapple with the reality that they drilled the hole too big or that the part is just a bit too short. These errors or incorrect assumptions teach lessons in a way that no scripted curriculum can. Failure is one of the best teachers we have, but we've become afraid to let it into the classroom.

Today's guest, Jonathan Schwartz, is no stranger to shop class or to inventing, and ironically is also a math teacher at his high school. You'll be shocked about what he says about his shop classes versus his math classes as far as thinking skills, but I'm not letting the cat out of the bag. You'll have to listen in for the answers.

I know I say this every week, but its true every week. I just loved this interview with Jonathan. He is one of the most interesting guests we've ever had on the podcast because he teaches both a "core" subject as well as a shop class. His insights are priceless.

If your school doesn't offer shop class but you would like your kids to be exposed to more critical problem solving, you need to know about Inventor Camp. This year we'll be offering Inventor Camp in southern California, western North Carolina, Atlanta, and Orlando. To keep your kids from getting behind, go to and sign up for Inventor Camp. We're preparing kids for the innovation economy!

Original Episode Date: 2/25/16

Category: Innovative Educators, Makers & Innovators

Direct download: 078_-_Math_and_Shop_Class_with_Jonathan_Schwartz.mp3
Category:Technology Educators -- posted at: 9:44pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

  • Do you have to be an engineer to make robots?
  • Are there any advantages to growing up on a farm?
  • How hard is it to build a life-sized R2-D2 robot?

Michael McMaster | Table Top Inventing PodcastNormally on the Table Top Inventing podcast we are discussing some form of inventor or innovator, and today is no exception. For most of us, the word "Farmer" does not really bring up images of innovation, but that would be a grave mistake.

Some great innovations have come from the farm. Every star in Hollywood looks great because of a gentleman named Eli Whitney, and if you visited a farm and got to drive one of those huge tractors, you would discover that onboard are sophisticated GPS systems, computers, and great air conditioning.

Today's guest brings a blend of down home wisdom and high tech curiosity. He even mentions one of my favorite electronics platforms--Arduino(R)! Let's find out how Michael McMaster went from farm boy to sci-fi robot builder.

I love learning about the unusual paths that some people take to success. Michael certainly has an unusual story with lots of opportunities for failure, getting back up again, and finding another way to try.

Michael's experience with practical, hands-on learning on the farm just underscores again that the Table Top Inventing classroom experiences such as Inventor Camp are an ideal place to start innovating. Head over to and check out Inventor Camp.


Original Episode Date: 2/11/16

Category: Makers & Innovators

Direct download: 077_-_Robotics_and_Farming_with_Michael_McMaster.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 5:55pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

  • Does your child want to become a doctor but doesn't have the grades?

  • Have you ever wondered what happens when you get put to sleep by an anesthesiologist?

  • What is the purpose of licenses and credentials?

Dr. Wayne Smith - Table Top Inventing PodcastJoin us as we strap on our boots for a trek along alternate paths into healthcare.

Today's podcast breaks a streak I've had for quite sometime on our podcast. For various reasons, I have not had the opportunity to interview a medical doctor for the Table Top Inventing podcast. However, healthcare is one of the fastest growing fields in our country today.

In fact, engineering and science to address healthcare challenges is also a quickly growing field. So I'm glad I found an unique and interesting anesthesiologist to speak to us about his journey to becoming a doctor and what a young person entering the field might want to consider.

Dr. Wayne Smith is a very curious individual with an unusual story to tell about starting with a 2.6 GPA out of high school and eventually exiting his residency in anesthesiology with excellence. This is not your typical 4 years of pre-med followed by 4 years of med-school followed by a residency. 

Dr. Smith certainly doesn't pull any punches. He worked hard and found a way where most others would have quit. Along the way, he discovered the valuable lessons of learning how to learn and seeking excellence for its own sake. Hold on to your seats as we take off for an aerial view of a curious path into healthcare.

If your student needs that little spark or push into a life of curiosity, head over to our website and find our Inventor Camp. Just like Dr. Smith, Inventor Camp helps students become curious about life and to seek out answers for themselves.

Dr. Smith said, "Learning is secondary only to things like sleeping and breathing and eating." Let us inspire your teenager to find that same excitement for learning!

Original Episode Date: 2/4/2016

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 076_-_Flying_High_with_Dr_Wayne_Smith.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 10:00pm PST