Imagine It Final Report
In an effort to empower students as future leaders in STEM , problem based learning became the sole focus of my STEM integration. Special emphasis was put on student developing designated STEM habits of mind which included thinking out of the box, being creative and innovative, taking responsible risks and exercising perseverance. Serving as a model and coach for targeted teachers, I facilitated problem based learning projects with the classes that I taught. I also provided professional development for teachers on problem based learning, technology integration, cooperative learning and authentic assessments encouraging the use of Kagan cooperative learning strategies and strategies for assessing students. Students were exposed to the cardboard design challenge, the marble run design challenge, Claymations and STEM careers. Students also address some community needs such as designing and building a roller skating rink, designing and building of prosthetic devices for humans and animals, and designing a basketball hoop and lever. device using Knex pieces. Students also address a community need that interest them. For example, a group of students designed an improved traffic light signal.
Referring to my focus group, targeted teachers and students shared positive feedback about their STEM integration experiences. The 5th grade teacher shared that she had to change her mind set in order to grasp problem based learning. She said that problem based learning has done wonders for her students. "They have learned to work together and realize that it’s okay to make mistakes”. The 2nd and 8th grade teachers were also pleased with how problem based learning was geared toward real life situations and careers, allowed students to work in groups fostering critical thinking and problem solving. The 2nd grade teacher expressed that her students are more motivated about science and are now thinking out of the box, sharing ideas, asking and answering questions and persevering in completing each task.
My target students expressed that they felt more confident in exercising their creativity. They also expressed an appreciation for more technology in the classroom, being able to do fun projects and being able to solve and understand real world problems.
Overall, I have felt very privilege to serve as a STEM coordinator and given the platform to help bring positive changes to the educational practices of the school. It has been a great experience. This process has been a learning experience for me as well and has given me a different perspective about my educational practices. I strongly believe in students receiving a STEM education. I am learning to step back and allow my students to have center stage in their learning through exploration, problem solving and allowing them to have choices. I’ve learned that the utilization of the engineering design process works for any subject and any situation. Teachers and students are being transformed in the way they view education and I’m excited.