August 12, 2015
The second day of the STEM-PBL Teaching Institute began with a tour of LiDestri Foods in Fairport. There were many connections to classroom learning and insights shared after we returned. Teachers commented on the many different jobs it takes to manufacture food, most of which students never consider, or may not be aware of, when thinking about careers. Furthermore, teachers were giving insight to what levels of education are required to work various jobs within the manufacturing company. Other lessons learned were how essential collaboration among different team members is and how each member has ownership of the overall process while fulfilling their individual role. From engineers and managers to factory line-workers, each person takes responsibility for the product. Teachers saw examples of simple machines, complex machines, environmental issues, and application of vocabulary in ways that gave them a new perspective on their responsibility as teachers of tomorrow’s workers and citizens.
In the afternoon, teachers worked on their projects and were treated to a tour of the Green Machine mobile science learning lab by Steve Orcutt, BOCES Director of Instructional Programs and Services. Teachers used their experiences and resources to dive into their own planning, realizing that starting small can be both harder and easier than first thought. In breaking the planning down into manageable parts they slowly but surely are moving through the process at a comfortable pace while feeling as empowered as they imagine their students will be experiencing these new lessons.
August 10, 2015
Our second STEM-PBL Summer Institute began with a flourish! Kim Ward, Gates-Chili Superintendent of Schools gave the opening address – reminding us of our purpose as educators and inspiring our work for the week. Next, we were treated to a few hands-on design challenges by Sodus STEM Coordinator, Mike Consadine, as well as an overview of project-based learning.
Two alumni from the 2014 Summer Institute shared their successes with this years’ class. Patti Saucke from Churchville-Chili Middle School created a project around growing food. 5th and 8th graders collaborated to build hydroponic gardens, a living wall and vegetable gardens. Students surveyed their peers to find out what food they would like to see in a salad bar, and got community resources involved, including Wegmans, GroMoore Farms and others. The kids wrote and got grants, and they blossomed their project to energize and involve the entire district. Interestingly, she assigned students to find how these exciting ideas align with NYS standards, and they did a great job of it – finding connections all over the place!
The other alumni speaker was Caitlin Ullock, from Pittsford-Mendon High School, shared her project on Lake Ontario.
Living Environment students covered every environmental issue in the curriculum with a depth and interest level she hadn’t seen before, all in the context of Lake Ontario. They interviewed scientists and engineers, created videos, Powerpoints, posters and news articles and basically became experts in an environmental issue, helping to teach their peers so that by the end of the unit, every student was familiar with all of the issues. A great start to a great week!