Rob van Nood is an Oregon licensed educator now working as a Educational Technologist at Catlin Gable School and Co-Founder of TINKER CAMP & TINKER EDU. He received his MAT from Lewis & Clark in 1995. Rob has always taken a fresh look at teaching, tinkering with ideas to make the learning experience more effective. On the first day of school a few years ago, for example, Rob's kids were presented with a completely empty classroom and were instructed to help him design the space. The idea was that if kids had control of their space, they would be more willing to work within it. This out-of-the-box thinking is Rob's signature, and it's his pursuit of teaching through the use of narrative that makes Tinker Camp such a unique experience. www.tinkercamp.org
As schools, libraries and community centers become hotbeds for maker spaces, fablabs and tinkering zones, there is a real need to train and support the those who are delivering programs from those spaces. Your partners at Tinker Camp know that it is not enough to buy a 3D printer or soldering iron. There must be skilled mentors and a well thought-out curricular program behind it all, guiding decisions and implementation. It is essential that strong programming and curricular design is developed right alongside creative and cutting edge spaces.
The folks at TINKER EDU provide individuals, schools and organizations custom coaching options for training, developmental support, and educational strategies. Their expertise is not just theoretical because they practice in TINKER camps and community enrichment programs. With over 30 years of combined classroom experience in pre-k through post-secondary environments, the Tinker EDU have a clear understanding of the needs and pressures that you experience every day. Their workshops are designed to inspire you and to provide real skills, ideas and strategies so you can easily make tinkering and making possible in any classroom or learning environment. These workshops provide a mixture of hands-on experiences, instruction and philosophical background, along with tools, materials and support. And whether your program is in a library, community center or school, your TINKER consultant-educator will be there to provide ongoing coaching.
Every summer, we have the wonderful opportunity of presenting, training and discovering some amazing STEM learning happening all over the country! Before the official day of summer begins, we want to post some of our favorite things for you to check out! Have fun and stay inspired!
We're Building a Pipeline!
At the Brooklyn New School, PS 146, a public school, Ecorama is the mixed age group planning, problem-solving and working together event that occurs throughout out the year. The day we visited we got to see them design, build and pump water through a system of pipes. http://bnsecorama.blogspot.com/ We love this school for many reasons including eating from their gardens and checking out the 4th grade Gowanus Betterment Projects including eco-sausages and floating islands!
Bakers and Astronauts?
"One of the biggest hurdles for people beginning to use open-ended materials in the classroom is choosing and curating the materials. What can a material do? How can it be used? What are the possibilities for play and work? Those are questions that we should ponder as educators, and curators of materials and environment. Those are questions that we can see children answer through their hands-on play with open-ended materials. We don't need to orchestrate how play will unfold, but supporting children's play doesn't end with choosing materials. Open-ended materials offer the opportunity for juicy, creative, and independent work for children of all ages. Choosing and curating materials is not just creating a setup that draws users in : it keeps the user engaged. Choosing a material that has multiple uses means that one thing is endlessly engaging: it can be used one way by one child, and another way by the next. It can be combined with other materials, or perhaps used on its own." says Allie Pasquier, creative mind behind Bakers & Astronauts! www.bakersandastronauts.com
I walked in to a middle school office and saw the board and new immediately it was a PINEAPPLE CHART! If you have not heard of this type of chart, you need to read on. In changing a traditional school to a 21st century innovative place of learning, you need to start by changing the ECOSYSTEM to be STEM friendly. You might have teachers who are immediately on board. Then you will have resisters. Even though research says that it takes 80 hours of Professional Development in order to train teachers to be true STEM educators, its still a process. One idea is to post a PINEAPPLE CHART in a faculty lounge, mailroom or some place where teachers who have something happening STEM-wise, can post their names/times. This becomes a WELCOME sign and faculty are invited to DROP IN and observe what STEM EXCELLENCE is happening there! It is informal, a chance to be inspired, see how a colleague manages a collaborative, problem-solving lesson, using Real World scenario challenges. It provides a way of sharing some innovative approaches and with such super talent in your school, why not allow teachers to see it happening? When a teacher takes a break, planning period, they are able to stop in and can stay as long as they need to. Later, colleagues can share/coach.mentor/ ask questions and begin to grow their own confidence in fostering more STEM Excellence in their classroom!
Using commonly found materials, children can experience the fun of building kinetic sculptures, musical gloves, and marble mazes! This ABC STEM website is a favorite and teachers and parents find it fun and easy to use. Have you ever considered making a xylophone with fruit? Or having children TOY with SOUND? Check it out! http://www.pienetwork.org/a2z/
How do meteorologists study the atmosphere? Who is NOAA? Who is NWS?
What technologies do we use to study and forecast the weather?
These were some of the Essential Questions that were asked by students recently as we held a workshop on exploring meteorology! What an opportunity we had using the tools real scientists have at their disposal to track patterns and make predictions. A highlight for all of us was to be able to use our communication skills and become meteorologist broadcasters. Thank you Discovery Center, Boise, Idaho, for letting us use our imaginations and inspire STEM careers!
Summer is a busy time for Readiness Learning Associates Teacher Professional Development training! School districts schedule months in advance to have training for their school leaders, teachers and staff. As the new school year approaches, many hold their PD week In-Service events towards the end of summer. RLA's team of STEM specialists are traveling all over the country to bring the very best to our clients. Days are packed with hands-on learning; lots of movement and training happening indoors and outdoors! With all of the months of planning, it is the 'surprises' that can turn an accident in to a STEM learning moment! Rushing for the airport, my foot collided with a door crushing two toes, that needed to be re-set and a sprained ankle! To navigate through an airport these days requires quite a bit of patience; this injury makes it more an Olympic endeavor! Flying, setting up STEM events and training, I am using this opportunity to show teachers how we can foster more collaboration and imagine the possibilities for STEM learning! Balance and Motion, are just a few added lessons to the already jammed packed training day! We are eager to take the journey alongside each of you. Together, we are on a mission to transform schools with STEM Integration and STEM Implementation! Here is to a great 2016-2017 school year and beyond !
Recently, Readiness Learning Associates took students for a behind the scenes tour at Warner Studios in Burbank, CA. We learned the science, engineering and technology used for many of the Harry Potter movies special & visual effects. Thank you Warner Brothers! Here is to some fun flying! Watch the end of the film to see Carrie Lynne Draper, Executive Director, Readiness Learning Associates enjoy her ride on a broom. Enjoy!
Do you remember your first Chemistry kit? I do! I am thankful that I was given opportunities to create, design, test and reconsider. Today's children may not have the time to make macro and micro discoveries that will empower them to become innovators. Give time to allow children to explore, become messy and discover what interests them!
As the STEM Advisor to Caltech Children's Center, people often comment to me that our program must be intense, because it is Caltech. Yes, we are home to more than 32 Nobel laureates including 18 alumni and 18 professors. Founder of Intel, Gordon Moore is an alumnus of our college, so you figure we are pretty good at coding & programming! However, we had to work with our teachers to become more comfortable with coding & programming. We used comedy with fun activities that produced lots of laughter and appreciation for understanding the basic principals of coding & programming. When we started introducing coding and programming to our students, we designed lessons so children socialize, not sit in front of digital devices all day and provide a well-balanced technology program. Using small group, play-oriented learning in our classrooms, the curriculum is oriented to build 21st century skill and thinkers. When our students move on to elementary school, they are ready for more exposure to apps, robotics with VEX and LEGO, 3D modeling & animation, and Scratch. We have discovered that even three year old children like designing and programming robots. We encourage teachers and students as they gain confidence in computer science and engineering.
Marilyn vos Savant, newspaper columnist, was once asked, "Do you think algebra should be required in our schools?" Her answer was simply, "Its essential!'. Algebra is pure logic, and all students need to learn how to think, not just what to think! The subject has to be taught well, by GREAT algebra experienced teachers! When studying algebra, students learn how to reason with facts and without bias. Students should learn why various operations should be performed, not only how to perform them! You can't progress in science without algebra! Studying algebra builds brainpower! Marilyn is asked, "What about the student who will not go in to science-related careers, can they just skip it?" Again, she uses the example of going to the gym. Do you go to see all the equipment at work? No, you go there to be more physically fit for everything you do. By requiring all students to take Algebra, taught by GREAT teachers, and experiencing how to think, will be beneficial for many learning experiences in the years ahead! Insist that the BEST algebra teachers are teaching these subjects. Not all math teachers can teach algebra!