By Dr. Catherine Riddle
Remember when you were a child on a long road trip to grandma’s house before cars were equipped with televisions? My dad would tell us to imagine that we were watching an episode of Star Trek, and my sister and I would run through every nuance of the show in our minds. As the imaginary show ended, we were amazed to find ourselves in front of grandma’s house.
Imagination is so important to every aspect of our lives — whether in school, work, art, or science and engineering. Without the power to imagine and dream we would never obtain that wonderful version of our world our minds can see.
As both a scientist and an artist, I have found there is a unique symbiosis between creativity, imagination and research. I have a favorite saying, “If you can imagine it, you can build it” and I apply this philosophy not only to new inventions, but also to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and outreach for both children and adults.
We are in an amazing time in our history where technology that was once considered science fiction is now science fact. How did we get here? It took time, imagination and perseverance! How many of us while watching our favorite sci-fi show have thought, “I want one of those gadgets!” I know I did.  I wanted a Star Trek communicator so badly when I was a kid, and now as an adult I have one in my pocket … an iPhone. Somewhere along the path to today’s iPhone was someone who not only imagined the communicator in the real world, but acted on their idea and brought it to life. Is it as easy as it sounds? Not really. There have been many successes and failures along the way. It

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