Mar 23, 2016

National CUE Conference 2016

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the National CUE Conference with 15 teachers and administrators from our district. We all left the conference completely inspired, hopeful, and excited about advancing technology and STEAM integration throughout our district. One of my favorite quotes from the weekend came from Cindy Moss, "STEAM is a culture, not a class." Those words really helped me to reflect on the fact that I really want to help our teachers to think of STEAM as a district-wide learning culture, and not as an extra activity.

Other words that really inspired me were Brad Montague (creator of the Kid President Videos) saying to "Choose to take a chance with what you have." This really reminded me to continue to take risks, even if all of the conditions aren't perfectly in place. With technology and STEAM resources changing so quickly, if you keep waiting, the moment will pass, and you could keep waiting forever.

Hadi Partovi (creator of also reaffirmed all of our district efforts to integrate computer science in our TK - 8th grade classrooms. It helped me to remember how important a background in computer science will be for all of our students to be successful in the future. I also thought more about how my goal for next year will be for most of our schools to have 100% of students participate in the Hour of Code. And for schools who did that this year, the next step will be to provide training around more comprehensive coding programs and ideas for true classroom integration. Instead of always creating a screencast or movie for storytelling or to explain their thinking, students could start to program it, using apps like Scratch Jr. or Scratch.
I was also very fortunate to be on the opening panel of The Underwater Dreams movie by Allan Cameron. This was my first time being on a large panel, but it was truly humbling to share my opinions and experience with so many people!

My co-worker, Amanda Haughs, and I also presented a session on STEAM Integration. I was reflecting about how far we have come as a district and I am so proud to be part of such a motivated and forward-thinking team!

Mar 13, 2016

MESA Day 2016 - Campbell Middle School

Last weekend, we had 35 students from Campbell Middle School compete in MESA Day at San Jose State! Students competed in different engineering design challenges, including the prosthetic arm, popsicle stick bridges, mousetrap cars, balsa wood gliders, egg drop, and bioengineering. Thanks to the dedicated MESA teachers, Richard Timpson and Pedro Garcia, the students were ready and proud to present their finished projects before the teams of industry judges.

Below are pictures of the the 5/6th grade and the 7/8th grade prosthetic arm teams. The teams worked for months designing an assistive device that would pick up and throw as many bean bags as possible into a specific area. Our students used 3D modeling software to 3D print a hand that would best pick up and throw a bean bag. They then used an Arduino circuit board to program a motor to that would move the hand's fingers with the touch of a button. Finally, they used cardboard and other recycled materials to connect all pieces of the arm together. One of the most challenging parts was presenting and documenting their process, budget, and final design in a technical report and poster.

Many of our 6th grade students competed in the popsicle stick bridge contest. The challenge was to use up to 50 popsicle sticks to design and create a bridge that could hold the heaviest amount of weight. Our strongest bridge held 49.5 pounds!

Another popular challenge was the mousetrap car. Students used a mousetrap to propel a car that could travel 5 meters in the shortest amount of time. The fastest time from our 6th grade students was 3.59 seconds!

Five student projects were awarded medals for their categories. One of the 8th grade balsa wood gliders won first place, and will be moving on to the state-wide MESA competition. Campbell Middle School Principal, April Mouton, even came out to cheer the students on! All students left with a deep sense of accomplishment for the hard work that they had put in for the past few months. Many shared that they can't wait to continue engineering next year, in high school, in college, and beyond! Thank you Richard and Pedro for inspiring our next generation of engineers every day!

Mar 7, 2016

National Engineers Week 2016!

This year we celebrated National Engineers Week as a district STEAM event! It was optional, but we had over 100 classes choose to participate!

We started by preparing teachers for Engineers Week by hosting three Engineering Teacher Boot Camps at three different schools and libraries throughout the district. Teachers who attended learned about the Engineering Design Process and recommended engineering projects (including our STEAM Library Book Projects and the Tech Challenge Classroom Projects). They then shopped for the materials that they needed to do their favorite Engineering Project with their students and had the option of trying the project as well!

I also had the privilege of getting to work with many classes on their engineering projects! Here are a few of the classroom highlights throughout the week: