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Learning Outside the Box

During this time of social distancing and quarantine, we're all stuck in confined spaces. Let's learn something new while we're at it!

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I started out at the front desk here at SparkFun. It was a much-needed break from my traditional job, and I actually really enjoyed talking to customers and finding out what they do with our products.

I once had an extensive conversation with a fellow who was using our pressure-sensing fabric to identify pressure points for leg amputees to try to help alleviate "phantom limb" aches and pains. When I asked him who he worked for, he leaned down for a sec, and then put his prosthetic leg on the counter and said, "ME!" That encounter stuck with me - not only was the subject fascinating, but it also made me really think about human ingenuity and how we learn.

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Another encounter that stuck with me was a phone call I got - a high school senior called in and asked me what his college major should be if he wanted to work at SparkFun. That gave me pause. The obvious answer is electrical engineering, but thinking about my compatriots here - we have degrees and experiences that run the gamut.

Personally, my degree is in molecular biology/biochemistry, but I worked in software and dev-ops for the majority of my career. We have a guy who has a degree in psychology and was a mental health worker, a beekeeper and a social worker before coming to SparkFun. We have degrees in Physics, English Literature, Mechanical Engineering, Communications and Welding.

The point (which is what I told the kid on the phone) is that it really doesn't matter what you go to school for. What matters is that you know how to learn and have the self-discipline to teach yourself whatever it is that fascinates you.

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With all of us socially distancing ourselves and many of us trying to homeschool our kids while still doing our own jobs, it occurred to me that now is an ideal time for my kids (and myself) to learn things a bit more outside of our usual routines.

If you're on the same page, have a look at some of our educational content. Our pillar pages have topics like What is Electricity? in our Engineering Essentials section, All About LEDs (because seriously, who doesn't like to light things up), and Building a GPS System.

We also have a bunch of fun tutorials and ideas, both in our blog posts and our actual tutorials. Check out the Lego Wall-E Hack, Bobby's super fun LED and light painting posts, the newly updated micro:bot, and Pete's super awesome Secure DIY Garage Door Opener, which IEEE just published!

Have fun, learn something new, and happy hacking!


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