Deborah Sigel

Deborah Sigel
Deb is a mechanical engineering consultant, STEM educator, artist, and parent in the Burlington area. She is also the co-owner of the Vermont Idea Company. Deb has designed parts of Mars Rovers, astronaut tools, underwater robots, and eye implants that enable the blind to see. She has years of experience teaching fun hands-on STEM workshops and camps focusing on fundamentals of engineering (often by destroying things) and empowering kids to build their own giant creative things with tools. She currently teaches Arduino and Space Design courses to high school students at the Governor's Institute of Vermont. As an artist, she loves learning new ways to make things and integrating those new skills into her art. She dabbles in illustration, woodworking, silversmithing, sculpture, fabric, food, and more. In her free time, you can find her picking blueberries, inventing a new toy (like an interactive phone switchboard for her preschooler), or making kreplach and challah with her kids.
Tree fallen over a power line with someone on the phone looking at it

Don’t Ask Me to Reboot the Modem: Dehumanizing Systems that Ignore Human Needs

There are a select few things that really upset me. They are: Being ignored. Having my hair pulled. Someone eating all my food (or being unable to find food I can safely eat). As a parent, I find...
A comet as viewed from a spacecraft

Using Art to Fundraise for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Vermont

I love making a difference in the community, and found an amazing way to use my artistic talents to make a real impact for refugees. This year I participated in Central Vermont Refugee Action Network’s (CVRAN) March Arts Marathon and Chittenden Asylum Seekers Assistance Network’s (CASAN) Arts for Asylum Seekers fundraisers to support refugees and asylum seekers settling in Vermont.

Hanukkah Celebrates the Right to be Different

Why can’t you just be like everyone else? Because I’m not like everyone else. Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday celebrated in December (usually)*, is all about being different and standing up for the right to be different....
Christmas is Coming

How to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed by Christmas

Are you traumatized by current events? Feel like you and everyone else are wrapped up in it, and yet you cannot find footing? Did you just trip on your rotting jack-o-lantern on the way down your front steps to get the latest 25lbs of gift catalogs in the mail? Don’t get overwhelmed. I’ll help you get through these 2 months of Christmas preparations with advice from someone who has never celebrated Christmas.

Imposter Syndrome Impacts My Work and My Parenting

I am an engineer with spacecraft in orbit and on Mars, and am a parent to two wonderful kids.  I have designed some really crazy stuff as an engineer, and still spend a lot of time doing activities with my kids.  So, why then do I feel like a failure at work and at home?  Shouldn’t I be proud of all that I’ve done? I have Impostor Syndrome, a feeling of persistent incompetence and fear of being found out as a fraud.  It makes you feel like you don’t deserve your role, in spite of being highly qualified and prepared for what you do.  All of this is a cognitive misperception, but feels very real.  I experience Impostor Syndrome as both a parent and as an engineer.
Materials for Tinkering

Teaching Kids How to Deal with Failure and Frustration

From my experience doing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outreach and teaching kids tinkering, I have found that tinkering is a great way to teach kids how to deal with failure and frustration....
robot menorah

Making Hanukkah Meaningful for Your Kids

My family and I find December to be a challenging time of year. We celebrate Hanukkah, a minor 8-day Jewish holiday that celebrates our survival over assimilation to the Syrian-Greeks. We’re here because throughout...

Tips for New Vermonters from a New Vermonter

New to Vermont or thinking about moving to the state? Here are some tips for new Vermonters based on my experience moving to Vermont 5 years ago. I moved to Chittenden County with my family...
spool parrot

Tinkering as a Form of Meditation for Children and Adults

I’m an artsy fartsy maker type, and I’d like to propose tinkering as a form of meditation. I don’t do yoga. That’s actually a lie. I took ballet and swimming as a kid. I’m super flexible...
Kids learn taking things apart

Why It’s Important to Let Kids Take Things Apart

When I discuss inventions, I love to ask why it’s important to let kids take things apart: "If you were to design a drill to drill into rocks on Mars, how would you know what...