California Educator

November / December 2016

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"To me, engineering is the path- way b etween math and sci ence and language arts, so students can make connections to w hat they are learning in ways th ey n ever could before." W h e n H a i t i w a s d e v a s t a t e d by an earthquake, Walker taught about building codes and earth- quake readin e ss. Her hu sb and , an architect, designed a machine that could replicate a magnitude 7.0 quake on a smal l scale. Her students built small structures as an experiment to see what kind of buildings were sturdy enough to remain standing during an earth- quake. In the first attempt, all of the students' creations crumbled, much like the poorly constructed buildings in Haiti. "Even though many of the mod- els failed, the joy of engineering is that kids can collaborate, revise and try again," says Walker. "Engi- neering teaches a positive growth mindset in a way I 've never seen before. Students build something, test it, and move on. One hundred p e r c e n t o f t h e stu d e n t s f o u n d success in the rebuilding of their structures. They were so excited, and there was so much pride." She took the project a step further after she told her students about a Haitian child named Duprene whose mother was severely injured in the earthquake. Duprene was supporting his family by making and selling bracelets on the street. e students wanted to buy his bracelets. "But my students were told no, because there were not enough bracelets available, and it would be a hardship for him to fill a large order. So students created bracelets in Murdy blue and gold and sold them to the student body, donating the funds to Duprene. At the end of the year, a package came. Duprene had worked for months creating bracelets of his own to share with students." e experience is an example of what she hopes will motivate students throughout their lives: taking what they learn and using it to help the world. She created a program, "Prepare/Care/Share: Using Engineering to Make Global Connections," with some help from CTA's Institute for Teaching. e IFT grant, renewed this year, allows teachers to partner with parents and the after-school Kids Club to provide students with hands-on experiences using Engi- neering is Elementary curriculum. Her STEM program incorporates Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core. Wa l k e r i s a m e m b e r o f t h e Instructional Leadership Corps, a collaboration of CTA and Stan- ford University, w hich prepares teachers to train teachers in best practices for implem enting th e n e w stand ard s. S h e i s proud to b e p ar t of thi s pro g ram th at i s breaking new ground in profes- sional development. L a st ye a r, s h e w a s o n e of 3 4 teachers nationwide to complete a food science training program that's a partnership of the Food a n d D r u g A d m i n i s t ra t i o n , t h e National Science Teachers Associ- ation, and Graduate School USA. e weeklong training, which took place in Washington, D.C., empha- si z ed nutrition , fo o d hand lin g, food preparation, and understand- ing the development and spread of foodborne illnesses. She immediately incorporated some of what she learned into the classroom. Students got a firsthand lesson in germs when they visited different locations in their school (including bath- rooms), swabbing various locations and then seeing whether their samples grew bacteria in Petri dishes. Glow-in-the-dark powder in various places allowed them to see germs "glowing" as they spread. "They learned that you must do a really good job of washing your hands," she laughs. " You shake somebody's hand, and they shake somebody's hand, and you have four generations of germs." Teaching STEM-infused curriculum has rejuvenated her career after two decades in the classroom. "I have seen kids who were not motivated to do anything sud- denly become motivated. at's the reason I come to work each day." 31 November / December 2016 Walker learned that children are fascinated with building things and taking things apart to see how they work, which makes them natural- born engineers. " THE JOY OF ENGINEERING IS THAT KIDS CAN COLLABORATE, REVISE AND TRY AGAIN. ENGINEERING TEACHES A POSITIVE GROWTH MINDSET IN A WAY I'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE." — CAMIE WALKER, GARDEN GROVE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

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