My new job title at Advanced Learning Academy is “S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher.” Thank goodness I didn’t know my co-teacher when I applied for the job – or I would have talked myself out of it.
My co-teacher, Kat Sauter, is A.MAZE.ING when it comes to everything from Robotics to Carpentry. We both share the school’s Maker Space as a classroom, and I have learned so much from her since I began this job 4 months ago.
Our Maker Space has about a bazillion tools and I knew how to use approximately 1.5 of them when I started in August (if you don’t count the computers). We have 3d printers, multiple saws, a laser cutter, and electronics I never knew existed. I learn about 20 things from Kat per day, and I believe she has learned 1 from me. Since September.
It isn’t only Kat’s vast knowledge of every piece of equipment that makes her incredible, though. It is also the way she is able to weave the idea of “making” into so many parts of the curriculum, can manage several groups at a time working on completely different things, and has complete confidence that students can work a table saw just as well as any adult (with proper training and safety equipment, of course).
And her ideas! I mentioned some of them in yesterday’s post, but I’ll recap and add more.
Kat collaborated with the 8th grade Humanities teachers to create an art exhibit at a local studio called, “Some are More Equal Than Others.” Each of Kat’s 8th grade Robotics students were partnered with other students in their classes to design the interactive masterpieces displayed for parents and the public to see.
With the Biology teacher, Kat helped her middle school students design working “Operation” games that demonstrate their knowledge of different body systems. These made an appearance at one of our community gatherings in October.
One of our math teachers happens to love carpentry, so he teamed up with Kat to teach an Engineering class. So far, the class has designed and built a chicken coop for our primary campus. In addition, with Mr. Woodman (yes, I know – PERFECT name), some of the students are currently making incredible cutting boards that they will be selling at our next community event in order to earn money for our space.
Not all of the students in the Engineering class wanted to work on cutting boards, though. So, some groups are learning how to make laser-cut jewelry, and others are developing a “Fix-It” workshop, where people will be invited to bring broken items for them to repair.
I feel very lucky to be able to see how a true S.T.E.A.M. program becomes an organic part of a campus, rather than a stand-alone course. The students are learning the Design Process, collaborating with others, and creating across the curriculum.
Technically, I am a “S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher’s Apprentice” as I observe Kat in action. I feel like I should be paying her tuition.
The good news is that we just got a new CNC, and she tells me that she doesn’t know how to use it yet – so we can learn together. I might know how to use 2.5 tools by the end of the school year…