December 10, 2019

How STEM Studio connected students and educators across boarders

Phyllis and her peers in the Summer 2018 STEM Studio Cohort gather for a group photo before the end of the training.

Professional development workshops and conferences are ways to learn new teaching strategies and improve one’s teaching practice.  In the summer of 2018, I attended my first of many weeklong STEM Studio workshops hosted by TGR Foundation.  Even though I have participated in numerous workshops throughout my teaching career, there was something unique about STEM Studio.  In attempting to describe my STEM Studio experience, the word that comes to mind is CREATE:

C—Collaborative mindset

R—Reflect upon and refocus your teaching practice

E—Experience from a different perspective

A—“Aha” moments

T—Time to play, to plan and innovate

E– Energize your teaching

STEM Studio validates what you do as an educator on a daily basis, but also challenges you to go beyond that.  For me, it has provided an opportunity to network and collaborate with teachers locally and internationally.  During the summer, I was fortunate to attend the International STEM Studio at the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim.

Phyllis and her partner prepare to learn about through a sheep brain dissection.

While there, I had a brief conversation with Rosalie Rozema, an 8thgrade teacher from AIS in Vienna, Austria, about an engineering project known as the “Pringles Potato Chip Challenge”. The result has been the development of an amazing, collaborative project between students from both AIS and Dale Junior High School, in which students literally package a single potato chip and send it through the mail.

Presently, because of the most recent STEM Studio, my colleague Heather Zegarra and I are developing lessons that incorporate the inquiry mindset in both science and art. The following questions help us engage students and transform their learning experiences.

  • What do you notice or see?
  • What catches your attention?
  • What do you think you know?
  • What do you wonder about?
  • What else do you want to know?
Participants work together to solve a series of problems to beat the clock, in an escape-room style challenge designed for educators.

STEM Studio is unique because of the camaraderie that develops amongst the participants.  Everyone has something to contribute, regardless of the subject you teach or the number of years in which you’ve been in education.  STEM Studio gives you the time to reflect on your teaching and rediscover your “why” as an educator.

Redefining what it means to be a champion.