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Local educators strive to learn and teach more critical thinking STEM activities

Skilled tower building educators as proud onlookers patiently waiting to hear the height measured for their tower.
Skilled tower building educators as proud onlookers patiently waiting to hear the height measured for their tower.Tyriq, Carletta Hurt, and Florentia Spires

D.C. and Prince George’s County educators convened on Saturday, September 22 to highlight STEM Education. The professional development workshop included educators whose experience ranged from first year educators to highly seasoned educators. They were primarily second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade elementary school teachers but also included special educators and reading specialists as well.

The composite of educators were novice to informed recipients of STEM Education. Nonetheless, they all gathered to seek additional information with the purpose of extending their knowledge of STEM Education and pedagogy.

The Professional Development Workshop was held from 10 am to 12 pm at Howard University Middle School located on the campus of the historical campus of Howard University. The educators were engaged in a math and science STEM activity that included extensive discourse related to STEM Education and its’ importance for our youth in the 21st Century. The task was performed in groups of three to four educators who were charged to engage in the engineering design process of collaborating, design and building. Their goal was to construct the tallest freestanding tower made from 50 flexible straws using one meter of masking tape in fifteen minutes. Some of the educators were eager to touch materials to gain insight on how to navigate the process before the activity began. In the fifteen minutes of allotted time, each group was successful in gaining insight on attributes that lead to the success of a freestanding tower given the materials to utilize. Educators then elaborated on the challenges encountered if any that they faced in the hands on activity and the teamwork. They also provided insight on how their insight gained could transfer into student successes and or challenges. Educators finally shared how the same activity could be catered to varying grade levels and how the activity could be extended to create a greater challenge version of the same activity by combining flexible straws and nonflexible straws. They noted that the extension of the activity could be a part of the redesign component of the engineering design process.

The educators acquired additional resources that they could take back to utilize in their classrooms immediately. Most stated that they would utilize the workshop activity in their classroom in the upcoming week of classes. They unanimously agreed that the workshop lead to greater awareness on the implementation of STEM activities in their classroom. They also added a need to converge again for continued Professional Development as they become more seasoned as educators wanting to implement processes of STEM education. How many of the participants will apply the information gained to implement a STEM lesson in their own classroom in the next two weeks while the acquired information is still fresh on their minds?

The presenter enticed her participants by raffling off her STEM expertise to lead classroom lessons for two winners who attended the professional workshop in the upcoming weeks. The winner of the raffle will be announced on September 29. It was a productive Saturday of STEM teaching and learning for all of the educators involved.

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