By Mahnaz Ahrary and Drew Altizer, CEI Interns
Fight for Children: Joe Champs Summer Institute Conference June 22nd-23rd, 2016
‘The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: designers, inventors, teachers, storytellers: creative and empathic ‘˜right-brain’ thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.’ –Daniel Pink
On June 22nd and 23rd, the Joe Champs Summer Institute of Fight for Children featured CEI’s Dr. Mason and Orinthia Harris, a CEI Associate who leads Robotics and STEM related workshops for early childhood educators in Washington, DC. They conducted presentations on Teaching Robotics, and Leadership for STEM/STEAM.
Robotics and Early Childhood. Ms. Harris explained that learning robotics through designing and building allows for intellectual understanding; and although fancy gadgets could be useful in teaching robotics, these gadgets are definitely not necessary for engaging students in the creative process. Recommendations for the many ways to introduce robotics, included robotics through literacy (reading about robotics), designing and building, and teaching preschoolers about the concept of programming or coding.
At the workshop, teachers responded enthusiastically to a hands-on demonstration of designing and building actual robots made of ordinary objects (pipe cleaners, magnets, styrofoam containers, Legos, etc). Teachers worked in groups to design and build a robots from simple, inexpensive materials such as tin cans and magnets.
STEAM and Preschool Children Position Statement from the National Science Teachers Association on the value of STEM for early childhood. Participants were asked to consider times when they may have underestimated their students. One teacher explained how she was heading over to a play area to explain a task to one of the children, when a shy, soft-spoken student as part of the natural play process walked over to the child and very quickly and effectively explained what was needed.
Six Models of STEAM. During her presentation, Dr. Mason introduced six models of STEAM:
Nature based curriculums,
Incorporation of STEM and imaginative play,
The use of makerspaces
STEAM = STEM + Adding the ‘A’ for Arts
Parent/community involvement, and
Fight for Children focuses on early childhood educators, offering programs to expose them to cutting edge techniques and strategic guidance and mentoring. Their Joe Champs conferences serve the DCPS public school, charter and independent school community by bringing together local practitioners and national experts to share best practices on specific topics.
U.S. Department of Labor. (2009). Statistics.
Pink, D. (2009). A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.