Calling All Teacher-Tinkerers
Chris Whipple is TASC's Vice President of Programs.
Don’t let my photo fool you. I’m going MacGyver.
TASC is about to try something new to excavate science from the pages of textbooks and put it into the hands of student tinkerers, designers and makers. We’re looking for five teams of teachers-plus-community educators who want to learn how to enliven STEM instruction in their schools next year—and excite future inventors—by incorporating making and designing projects into their standing science-technology-engineering-math curriculum.
These teams will consist of one elementary or middle school classroom teacher, together with two educators from the community organization that partners with each school to expand learning. Each team of three will spend 30 hours this August learning instructional techniques from the tinker-happy museum educators at the New York Hall of Science (ground zero of New York’s maker movement). They’ll learn ways to engage students more zestfully in what you might call pre-engineering skills—hands-on designing, tweaking and testing—while covering grade-level science content.
This is thanks to the Pinkerton Foundation, which brought together the brain trust that gave rise to the New York City STEM Educators Academy. About a year ago, Pinkerton formed the New York City STEM Network—a task force of leaders from city government, schools, museums, libraries, STEM-focused youth organizations, foundations and universities. We’ve been meeting at TASC to cross-pollinate formal and informal science education, and to plot strategies to create more STEM learning opportunities. The network cooked up this project, for which Pinkerton is providing support.
What will be different in participating schools next year? As part of the August boot camp, each team will plan for how to use additional learning time at their schools to co-teach. At least 40 students at each school will engage in 100 hours more of hands-on science. Expect to see more of this sort of project, through which a kindergartener can make a simple circuit.
TASC science experts will provide educators with in-school coaching, and they’ll visit the Hall of Science for additional professional development. If you’ve got project ideas or tips for our pioneer co-teachers, please share in the Comments.