“If the motion of a slap has kinetic energy and if that energy dissipated as heat when it hits an object, can you cook a chicken by slapping it?” This is the question Dr. A. L. Ranen McLanahan, program director of entrepreneurial engineering at The Kern Family Foundation, kicked off his latest Faculty Learning Together Workshop, “The Curious Power of Curiosity.”

McLanahan shared when you present a question like this to students, they will instantly look up and be interested in what you have to say next. In fact, while he was presenting this to faculty at MSOE, a student in the hallway stopped to peer into the to classroom to see what the presentation was about. This is the power of curiosity.

“We have far more control over student attention than we think, we just have to figure out how to engage it,” said McLanahan.

The workshop included small group exercises that challenged groups to build off one another’s “what if” questions. “Entrepreneurial Minded Learning is about bringing opportunity and impact to the classroom. ‘What if’ questions are often at the heart of these two things,” said McLanahan.

Entrepreneurial Minded Learning (EML) encourages students to explore curiosity, connections and create value while executing projects. The entrepreneurial mindset is a key element of the MSOE Mindset, which identifies graduates as leaders of character; responsible professionals; passionate learners; and value creators. Faculty focus on helping students develop the MSOE Mindset through experiential learning that prepares them for real-world projects.

McLanahan proceed to explain that curiosity can fall on a scale of liking to know versus needing to know. For example, questions like “how long can a goldfish remember?” or “who are the people in the American Gothic painting and what is their relationship?” ignite different levels of curiosity. Faculty can use these different levels of curiosity in the classroom to engage students.

“When students feel like they can succeed, they will follow you just about anywhere,” said McLanahan.

The CREATE Institute hosts regular Faculty Learning Together Workshops led by MSOE faculty and staff as well as outside guests. Visit the Event Calendar to view upcoming workshops.