Discovering the Share Fair Nation STEMosphere

Please enjoy this guest blog from Minaz Fazal, our Manager of Innovation in Digital Teaching and Learning. What does it look like when kids and teachers explore learning? 

As an educator, every once in a while you experience an educational “aha” moment. All the best verbs of learning collide at once—exploring, thinking, conceptualizing, growing, challenging, testing, hypothesizing…and just authentic kinesthetic experiences—into one large bang.

And as a 15-year veteran of education, this happened for me last Saturday. Thirty students, 30 teachers, and 4 school leaders from the KIPP Houston Team & Family happily stepped into an educational Disneyland.

The Share Fair Nation STEMosphere re-inspired me to make sure kids “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy” as Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus taught all of us. Much of the best learning happens when your hands are dirty. Kids reimagined towers and bridges, designed ceramic tiles, practiced CPR on an ambulance, explored 3D printing, drove robotic vehicles, tested out the flight simulator, and stargazed in the Planetarium…all at Ridge Point High School in Fort Bend ISD.

And the teachers honed their craft also, exploring flipped instruction, Chromebook apps, Khan Academy, and Augmented Reality. Based on these experiences, the buzz continued as they talked about integrating more discovery-based learning in the classroom, planning a school-wide STEM Day, flipping their classrooms, and using tools like Google Apps for Education and Khan Academy progress trackers.

Even our school leaders felt like the day reset their educational mindsets. Susan Shenker, KIPP Intrepid Preparatory’s School Leader noted, “Kids need time in the instructional day for exploratory learning and to show their skills.” She said she  spent the rest of the weekend brainstorming how to add a new level of creative problem solving and exploration into the school.

When I asked one of the students what she would tell her teammates who didn’t get to join us, she quickly quipped, “You really missed out.”

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