092 – Multidisciplinary Projects with Zack Dowell

Multidisciplinary Projects with Zack Dowell

There is also value in blowing minds. It’s not as easily quantifiable, but it is, ultimately, a more human measure and a more predictive measure of whether people are learning. -Zack Dowell

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[In This Episode][Guest Bio][Additional Notes][Text Transcript]

In This Episode

  • Can a fish be trained like a dog?

  • Can a school project be both art and science as well as entertainment and curiosity?

  • How do we bring engagement back to the classroom?

    Today’s podcast will grab you by the ears and entertain them all the way through.

Welcome to the Table Top Inventing Online Radio Show. Every week we interview successful individuals from across the career spectrum and share their stories. We want parents and educators to learn the tools they need to get and keep the interest and curiosity of teenagers.

Zack Dowell_Table Top Inventing Podcast

Today’s guest is a special treat. Zack Dowell knows how to have fun and learn at the same time. He’s sort of a professional at it. He’s currently working on the most fun project!

This project involves several departments across his campus: math, science, engineering, computer science, theater arts, and Zack is planning to recruit sociology and psychology as well. What kind of a project could capture the interest of so many different kinds of people?

Keep listening, and I’ll let Zack tell you.

Every now and then I have a guest that “Nerd Snipes” me. The term “Nerd Sniping” is from the XKCD cartoons, funny but somewhat irreverent. Essentially, today’s episode grabbed the nerd inside me, and I got a little excited.

Projects like the one Zack is working on are a perfect example of the kind of learning we seek and value at Table Top Inventing. If you want your kids to be exposed to more fun and interesting applications of technology that capture the imagination, let’s talk. Visit our website, ttinvent.com, and find out how we can connect. Kids need inspiration, and we love to provide it–just like Zack is doing at Folsom Lake College.

Parents AND students both tell us, “We can’t believe how much learning happened in just 4 days!”

We want to help you and your kids create the future!

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Guest Bio

 Zack is on the faculty at Folsom Lake College, where he runs the  college’s Innovation Center, providing training, resources and energy  to assist faculty and staff in the development of innovative approaches  to teaching and learning. 

A primary focus of the Innovation Center is Making Across the  Curriculum, an effort to help faculty from a variety of disciplines  integrate the ethos, tools, and techniques of making into their practice.

Zack is a lifelong tinkerer, maker, circuit bender, musician and  gardener, and is happiest when helping others manifest their ideas in  the service of learning, and when bouldering, rock climbing,  snowboarding, and whitewater kayaking.

Zack Dowell_Table Top Inventing Podcast

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Zack’s Favorite Quotes

 “A.B.P. ­ Always Be Prototyping.” ­I’m not sure who coined this phrase,  but it has changed my approach to almost everything, and is central to  my work with faculty. 


 “Start your own band, paint your own picture, write your own book!”  ­Mike Watt


 “Everything is made.  Everything is in the making.  Nothing is finished,  nothing was not made.  This is astonishing and worth lingering on.  The  mountains, your hands, the stars, laws, social movements ­ all made  and all on­going.  When we speak of making it is worth sensing how  big and remarkable an action we are discussing.” ­-
Iain Kerr (Director of Creative Practices at the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at  Montclair State University) 


 “Your hands are like dogs, going to the same places they’ve been. You  have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the  fingers, going to happy places. You have to break them of their habits  or you don’t explore; you only play what is confident and pleasing.”  ­Tom Waits

Favorite Teachers

Mrs. Dochterman, in fourth grade, saved me and helped set me on the path of becoming a teacher. Paul Sparks, PhD helped to refocus my energy and in doing so, changed the course of my life.

Something Zack Made Recently

I just finished a drip aquaponics system combining recycled plastic bottles and open source 3D printed nozzles.

Something Zack Learned Recently

I learned how to calibrate pH and conductivity sensors for use with Arduino, using solutions with known pH and conductivity values.

Additional Notes

Connect with Zack:

Additional Links:

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Text Transcript Coming Soon!

There is also value in blowing minds. It’s not as easily quantifiable, but it is, ultimately, a more human measure and a more predictive measure of whether people are learning. -Zack Dowell

Zack Dowell_Table Top Inventing Podcast

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