Fridays have typically been my day for publishing my weekly anti-racist posts. I almost saved yesterday’s video about engineering for today because I know that we not only have small number of women in STEM fields, but also people of color. But then I saw “Sam’s ABC’s”, and knew it would be a perfect Friday post.
Sam White raps potential careers for each letter of the alphabet in this video. If he doesn’t inspire you to become a gastroenterologist to solve “problems in the gut,” you might want to become a university president and “the future of your nation.”
I have seen too many stories of black students talking about being discouraged from pursuing careers, and spoken to too many high school students who never imagined all of the possibilities out there. Sam already knows at least 26 things “you can be,” and I am certain he is going to be great at whatever he chooses.
For a list of my previous anti-racist posts, click here.
My favorite piece of merchandise on the Beauty and the Bolt site is a 2020 calendar called, “Princesses with Power Tools.” The calendar features 12 inspiring women who are involved in STEM careers, creatively and colorfully photographed as princesses. Unfortunately, the site states that it is sold out. I sent an e-mail to find out if it will become available again, and will update this post if I learn any more details.
Whether you call it STEM, STEAM, or STREAM, engineering is part of each of those acronyms. In an incredible leap that still surprises me, I found myself teaching Principles of Engineering to students in 8th-10th grades this year. (I taught elementary school for 27 years before this, for those of you new to the blog.)
After nearly falling asleep reading the course curriculum, I started to hunt for ideas. There is no textbook; this is all project-based learning. And just because the subject was new to me didn’t mean that I had to read from boring PowerPoints all year.
During my quest for ideas I discovered a UK site for STEM Learning. Even more helpful for my specific interests, is the “Year of Engineering” portion of the site, which offers an incredible number of free resources for all grade levels.
Of course, I immediately dove into the secondary resources. From the initial page, you can narrow down your engineering interest to a particular subject by clicking on a “Choose Your Inspiration” button – which perfectly describes the effect the enormous number of ideas had on me. My favorite rabbit hole to leap into is the “Engineering in Design and Technology” one, which offers subcategories like “Sports Engineering” and “Humanitarian Engineering.”
You will need to register for a free account if you are interested in downloading any of the lesson plans or activities on the site. Just give yourself plenty of time to explore each time you visit…
This is a sweet video from FableVision that tells the story of two friends who choose different career paths based on their personalities rather than what culture dictates they “should do.” The message that you can be happy and successful in more than one way is one that I hope that I communicate to my own students and child.
The mission at DreamWakers.org is to connect students in 4th-12th grades who attend high-risk schools with professionals from various industries through video conferencing. In this way, low-income students can learn about career opportunities they might never conceive due to lack of exposure. They can also speak with role models who give practical advice on how to achieve their goals. You can learn more about applying for a “flashchat” through DreamWakers here.
DreamWakers recently made one of their popular resources available to all educators. Designed in collaboration with The Institute of Play, DreamBingo reinforces themes that DreamWakers identified as the “life skills” needed to navigate the challenges of pursuing desired careers. (Some examples are: learn to network, stay organized, and be an informed citizen.) After going over the glossary of these “DreamThemes,” a teacher can then use the Google Slides presentation included in the free materials to lead student pairs through playing Bingo as they try to identify the skills shown in video clips during the presentation. Students respond on printable Score Cards after each round of the game, giving them a chance to reflect on how the themes are used by the speakers as well as how they can connect them to their own lives and those of their peers.
DreamBingo can be a a great way to engage and inspire your students. By highlighting the “DreamThemes” referred to by these diverse role models, teachers can bring relevance to the classroom and open up the minds of their students to new possibilities.
About three years ago, we tried out a tool called, “Flipgrid” for a project that my students were doing for Genius Hour. We were using a trial version and I decided against a paid subscription and I didn’t think I was ready to invest in that at the time. However, I am seeing a lot of features that make Flipgrid a potentially exciting classroom tool. Basically, Flipgrid allows you to create a topic, and other people can add videos to respond to the topic. All of the video responses are collected on one page, which makes it easy to access them. This means that people can reply asynchronously, (as opposed to a Skype interview, for example) which allows for participants from all over the world to add videos when it is convenient in their time zones. For global learning, this can be an invaluable tool.
Recently, Flipgrid started offering a free account. Although it obviously offers less features (you are limited to one grid instead of unlimited, for example), it is still something worth trying. One grid still allows unlimited topics. Another way that you can experience Flipgrid for free is to participate in its “Explorer Series.” In the first edition of this series last October, Flipgrid offered weekly videos from an Antarctic marine biologist along with questions to which students could respond. Flipgrid just launched the second edition, which will be two weeks of posts from Mike Billington of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. The first topic is, “What is a common bird in your community? What can you do to support their environment?” Mike’s first video shows him with a live bald eagle, a site many students don’t get the chance to see. It would be interesting to connect this experience with Beauty and the Beak, and certainly a great way to make the last few weeks of school engaging and educational.