Day 2 was invigorating.
My aim with this work is that we can help teachers view themselves as innovators, capable of creating their own hands-on activities. We started to see the beginning of that very clearly today.
My approach to accomplishing this (which I was trying for the first time here) was to explain the design process at the beginning of the day, go through an activity to practice it, then apply the process to a topic in the syllabus.
I briefly talked about design (which I’ve found myself falling more in love with lately) and then challenged them to go through D-Lab’s CCB Maize Raise. Well… Banana Raise since it was easier for me to find a bunch of bananas here. In teams, I asked them to raise as many bananas as possible at least 15 cm off of the ground (imagining that they are trying to keep rodents away from where they are storing their fruit at home). And they were only allowed to use two sheets of paper.
This activity is empowering! A seemingly impossible challenge can be achieved through teamwork, creativity, and use of the design cycle. The teams readily came up with various solutions. The room was filled with chatter and energy as people discussed strategy, and the cell phone cameras were firing left and right to capture the various creations.
It was hard to get everyone’s attention back, and even once I did, people kept wanting to talk and share 1- how surprised they were that they could come up with a solution and 2- how much they wanted there to be more “real-life” activities like this in their classrooms.
Next up: light energy – a topic that was mentioned by the participants as being hard to develop activities for, but since the concepts are generally understood, I chose this as something they could start trying to apply the design process to. I charged them to design an activity to explain the concepts that the syllabus covers: One team developed something to show reflection, one team was on refraction, and the final team on the rectilinear propagation of light.
It was a natural transition- they were already in groups and there was still a buzz in the room. With some basic starter materials, they jumped in without me saying hardly anything else.
After lunch, I was again scrambling to adjust what I had planned for the afternoon. I mentioned to my wonderful assistants (who I’ll introduce in another post) that we were going to cover electronics, but that I was still deciding what exactly to present. One of them was trying to clarify what was going on and said, “so you’re going to give them some components and tell them to just build a circuit?”. That was not what I was originally thinking, but it was actually a great idea, especially given how everything today had been presented as a Challenge.
So I told everyone to gather whatever components they needed from a pile and make something that could light an LED using a switch. It appeared to be the first time that some of the participants had worked with real electronics components before. Their continued teamwork and can-do attitude helped them get through this activity and left me with a big smile.