Bio: Tracy is currently a 7th grade Life Science teacher at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math & Science Academy located in Chicago’s Belmont-Craigin neighborhood. She has been a Chicago Public Schools teacher for 14 years. She is also a professional development leader with Loyola University and CPS.
Narrative of Amazing Teaching Moment: My amazing STEM lesson began with an urge to motivate my students to explore and design new technology as a part of contest called Exploravision. Exploravision is a contest which requires students to examine current technology we use, research its history and design an improvement or alternative version we might utilize in the next 20 years.
I introduced this lesson by offering each small group simple everyday objects. An older model cell phone, a scented pencil, a marker, a bicycle pump, a binder clip, just about anything I had in my bag or desk. I instructed the students to first make observations silently and then discuss the purpose for this object being created. I facilitated a discussion on technology and afterwards had them create a definition for technology. Afterwards, they watched a short 2 minute video clip on technology and then revisited their own definitions. Once we determined what technology meant, I presented them with the evolution of phone - a series of photos showing how the telephone has evolved into a cell phone. We discussed the problem this technology solved and its effects on today’s culture.
I then offered them the opportunity to choose and research several types of technology either from a prepared list or one they thought of on their own for the purpose of designed a new or improved model. They spent the next day researching using guiding questions documented through Google sheets and the last three days sketching, designing and creating a digital presentation of their model. Some of the ideas they worked on were: hover shoes, peneraser, and a solar-powered gps drone. I have never seen my students so engaged!
Hashtags: #engineering, #innovation, #technology, #exploravision, #kidsdesign
Big 5 Themes of an amazing STEM lesson:
1. Hands On Engagement: Students have easy access to the lesson immediately by playing with manipulatives to discover patterns, relationships, and to wonder in order to develop conceptual understandings.
2. Inter-Disciplinary Activity: The activity inspires other teachers to bring their content knowledge/focus into the activity; promotes rich cross-curricular connections.
3. Real World Connections- Students have opportunities to connect their learning to how the human race has used these same tools to evolve into the society we are today.
4. Prior Knowledge - Teachers assess their students’ prior knowledge while simultaneously introducing new content and drawing on their students’ previous experiences as a point of engagement.
5. Collaboration- Students work interdependently to solve problems bigger than themselves and benefit from each individual’s perspective rooted in their diverse cultural, experiential, and socio-economic backgrounds.