Growing up in the early 1980s, I had never heard of a “Science Instigator”. The same was true for robotics and engineering classes. The only engineering I remember at Victoria Village School was… Well, if I’m honest, I don’t remember any engineering. And, an instigator was the title they gave me in the detention letter sent home to my mom.
My closest exposure to engineering at school was a dilapidated sandbox in the back of the classroom. We used it to build bridges and drive trucks through the sand. Science was studying the effect of eating school glue and the velocity of spitballs.
Today at Episcopal, students have so many amazing technology tools for learning. Every day you can find students utilizing 3D printers, a SMALLab, Google Expeditions Virtual Field Trips, and computer programming, just to name a few. Back in my day, printers were mimeograph machines and computer programing was more like ribbon replacement for a typewriter. Robotics was bringing your Transformer to school, and a robotic arm was just that… my arm when I did the robot (dance).
I am always amazed at the learning opportunities our students have here at Episcopal. Sometimes I am even a bit jealous. Our Science Instigators and teachers play a huge part in the development of our students’ young minds. "At Episcopal the Instigators are a positive force for change. They challenge teachers to think cross-curricularly, take the learning one step further, and help them when the tools and technologies seem a bit daunting," says Science Instigator @Betsy_Minton. They use play mixed with real problem solving, science combined with creative storytelling, and tons of SMILES - real smiles on the faces of kids who are enjoying the learning process.
Take the project-based unit, Enchanted Engineering, for example. This unit challenges students to rethink classic Fairy Tales (the same ones I learned about in the 80s) by using science, technology and creativity to solve the problems in the story. Lower School teacher Heather Harpole describes the unit as “a perfect combination for an integrated STEM lesson that promotes problem-solving, perseverance, and creativity."
In this unit, students think outside the box and design solutions for the characters in the story. They create tools to help the characters outsmart the “bad guys”, like the Big, Bad Wolf. Think about it. What if Rapunzel had created a better way to raise and lower people coming to her tower? Scientifically speaking, her hair was a really bad idea. I mean, c’mon!
Students are discovering real solutions by thinking creatively. They are building houses of straw - and pipe cleaner, KEVA planks and Legos bricks - all to discover whether the Big, Bad Wolf can huff and puff and still blow their houses down.
Kudos to our Science Instigators, @Betsy_Minton and Melissa Estremera, along with all of our teachers, who are making learning not only fun, but also making learning stick. Twenty years from now, unlike myself, our students can be proud of the engineering foundation they received here at Episcopal.
Both teaching and learning have come such a long way since my glue eating days.
If you have not had the chance to experience Episcopal, all you have to do is request a tour. Come see our innovative teaching and learning tools, and interact with our faculty and staff.
On a side note, I met a visitor today on campus. His encouraging words to me were, "I only wish I knew earlier what I know now about Episcopal.”
Visit us and experience the difference.
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