Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cultivating Curiosity & Problem-Solving through STEM

Here’s a question for educators to ponder: “How might we cultivate curiosity and problem-solving in our students through active and authentic STEM?"

The Teachers Guild, a group of teachers from 11 campuses across the district participating in a “design thinking” pilot program are doing just that, and are excited about the results so far, said Skyler Rossacci of the SBISD Research and Design Department. Rossacci presented an overview of the Teacher Guild to trustees at the Jan. 9 workshop meeting.

The design thinking process involves five steps: empathize – seeing the world through the eyes of those you’re creating for; define – synthesizing what you learned through empathizing; ideate – brainstorming ideas then picking ideas to move forward with; prototype – building “low resolution” models to work with; and testing.

While Rossacci and her team are looking to expand design thinking in SBISD, participants now are involved in a national challenge where, of 67 ideas presented, 11 favorites were chosen and five of those were from Spring Branch ISD. Lessons learned include discovering that prototyping doesn’t always mean getting it right the first time; start tiny and learn fast; and that the best prototypes change over time.

The successful design thinking pilot has created enthusiasm across SBISD, Rossacci said, and participants loved the process. She said her team is learning how to scale the innovations, and that the process empowers educators to be bold and help deliver on the strategic plan goals and T-2-4. “Design thinking plus supportive culture,” she said, “equals empowered teachers.”

Trustee Pam Goodson, who at Convocation in August implored SBISD educators to “be brave” and to “be bold,” noted that students identified as gifted and talented (GT) have long been going to the Bendwood facility one day a week, into an environment that supports innovation. She said she’s always thought it was unfair that other students didn’t have that access.

“I think we’ve broken through,” she said, referring to the encouragement given to teachers across the district. “Students everywhere can participate … I commend the courage of those teachers. Kids are the benefactors.”

Teachers Guild Presentation

Video Highlight - Introduction


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