This past December as we celebrated the closing of 2013 we also celebrated a semester of student achievement. We were overwhelmed with pride as students shared what they learned in science, finance, health, global awareness, medicine, and technology at WOW! presentations across the Bay Area. Here's a list of our top 4 WOW! moments from this past fall.
1. Creating Change that Matters
Maria Rodriguez is a student in “Creating Change that Matters” at Cesar Chavez Academy, an apprenticeship that teaches design thinking. At their WOW!, the students presented prototypes that they created from scratch to solve a problem in their community. Some of the products included a shorter basketball hoop so that kids of all ages could make a basket, and a schedule that allocates sports equipment for a more diplomatic recess time. At the WOW! students outlined the steps they used in the design thinking process, and the rationale behind why they chose to make the products they did.
Maria said, “I really enjoyed the hands-on designing experience. I learned how to create something out of nothing, something that could help the community.Creating things for my community helped me realize it’s not about you, it has to be for others.” Beyond learning engineering, teamwork skills, and the creativity to develop new products, Maria discovered something more profound through this project: a new-found sense of her role in the community.
2. Battle of the Robots
Two teams of robotics apprenticeships battled it out at this semester’s STEM WOW! The McKinley Institute of Technology robotics students explained all the steps they took to assemble and program their Lego robots. They answered every question that came their way and their knowledge and enthusiasm earned them the “Crowd Pleaser Award.” The robotics team from Joseph George Middle School shared the same excitement for their apprenticeship and demonstrated mastery of 21st century skills.
When asked about her favorite aspect of the apprenticeship, Jackie Jimenez from Joseph George spoke not about the robot that she built and programmed from scratch, but rather, about how she “learned about teamwork and how to share control.” She also gave a shout out to her CT, saying he “was very supportive through everything, he would help us in every way and we are thankful for this cool experience.”
3. Citizen Teacher Hari Venkataramani reflects on his experience teaching rocket science at Joseph George Middle School:
“It was a pleasure being part of the apprenticeship. I had a lot of fun interacting with the students, my fellow volunteer teachers and the Citizen Schools leads. I really appreciate the program that Citizen Schools puts together for students – it clearly has an uplifting impact on all the folks involved in the process and by extension society itself. I’m in awe of folks who pursue teaching as a full time profession; it takes a lot of non- linear talent, passion and patience to get an excited bunch of kids to focus and calm down and actually learn and harness all of their talent.”
We agree with you, Hari, and we’d like to give a shout out to the Citizen Teachers and AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows who consistently harnessed middle school students’ energy to cultivate creativity, curiosity, and confidence.
4. Anecdotes from STEM professionals at the STEM WOW!
On Solar Cars, “I was impressed by what they wanted to do next. They wanted to turbo charge the solar cars to make them go really fast. They not only had achieved something great, but they were already thinking about improvements they could make."
On Technology is Everywhere, “It’s exciting that they could explain from their point of view about media and communications which is my field. I learned a thing or two!”
On Simplexity, “Despite it’s name, this was very complex stuff! But as we rattled off questions the students never differed to anyone. They explained the work patiently, calmly and professionally.”