I have learned several significant ideas throughout the course of this summer class. First idea - STEM is fun! Math has always come easily to me. I have had a little bit of exposure to Engineering and Technology. I am very weak in Science skills. Putting all these core subjects together in a project just made them all come alive for me. I will seek out ways to enhance my teaching across STEM subjects. The EiE lesson made it simple and accessible to duplicate. Second idea - a part of your technology plan will not go as planned. Having plan B and maybe C in your back pocket is very beneficial. Third idea – kids are extraordinarily creative - set the stage, give them some direction, and watch them go beyond!
One thing is that I went out of my box to actually conduct a series of lesson in STEM (which I have never done before). I became familiar with the engineering design process and learned to let the students guide the activities through their engagement and ideas. The most rewarding aspects of this project was actually having some of the students engaged and involved in the engineering design process. As a group of girl teachers, we attracted a lot of the girl population at the Boys and Girls club. Many of the girls in our groups were engaged and had some great ideas/contributions to their teams. It was nice seeing that spark and imagination in some of our students. Also, I have never been to a Boys and Girls Club before, so it was rewarding getting that teaching experience in a setting other than a classroom.
I have very little experience in a classroom setting and I was eager to see how I would perform. I was glad to have experienced classmates to guide me through this new environment. In my opinion, the most rewarding aspect of this engagement was the journey that these kids took in order to create their racers. I loved seeing the “lightbulb” go off as they made modifications and improvements to their cars in order to get their vehicles to go farther and increase in speed. Very little was necessary from us to get them to see what modifications were required. They easily identified the problem areas and corrected them and each test run showed marked improvements in speed and distance. I was also impressed by their design choices. They truly understood the importance of how each component played an important part in how the racer performed. We received a variety of designs and each had aspects that set them apart in one respect or another.
I also learned that anyone can be an engineer, even an eight year old child. These students really took to the lessons and had a great time building their green racers. Along with providing lessons where students were allowed to build and work in teams, students were also given many opportunities to be problem solvers. I found that at times it was difficult to step back and allow students try and solve problems that they encountered on their own. I normally teach math, and although my students are also problem solvers, it is a little bit easier for me to instruct because eventually students should come to an answer. When students are being ‘engineers,’ there is not one correct answer. There were many different designs that the students created and allowing them to make mistakes along the way with a little guidance was difficult for our group because STEM Project Reflection there were many times when we wanted to jump in and help. Teaching children to be problem solvers is a difficult task and takes quite a bit of practice from the teacher.