I no longer go to school to teach, I go to play. I have become a coach and a tinkerer – not a teacher. Coaching students to think, solve problems, and ask questions; encouraging them to think outside the box, experiment, and tinker. Imagine, Create, and Engineer – a motto we live by in the ICE Lab. What used to be a traditional computer lab where I taught keyboarding, word processing, etc., has now become a new playground for students.
After teaching technology for a private school in Southern California for 12 years, my department chair came to me with an opportunity. I was asked to attend a LEGO Engineering Symposium at Tufts University to learn more about problem based learning using thinking methodologies and hands-on tools. I arrived very skeptical, very unsure of the process I was about to start, but after a few days I was hooked! The first-hand exposure of actually seeing the creativity and problem-solving in action helped me visualize the type of program we could create at my school – how we could revolutionize the way we teach and learn in our technology lab. Receiving first hand advice from two symposium attendees, Ian and Pam, made me realize that this process would be an adventure. I wanted more for both my students and myself.
I came back to school energized, and brainstormed with my department chair to introduce robotics into our curriculum. The computer lab was transformed to maximize the student experience. Gone is the traditional “computer lab”. Now we have a place that encourages creative activities and collaboration. A place so unlike anywhere else on campus that when a student enters the space, it allows them to think differently. It is flexible, colorful, has writeable walls, is technology rich, combining PC’s and Macs with iPads, and 3D printers.
At the symposium there was a presentation of the LEGO Green City challenge set, and I thought it was a perfect packaged experience. I bought it, but at the same time the presenter mentioned partnering with learning.com. We used learning.com for years so I saw this as a win-win situation. Looking back, I see Ian, Pam and LEGO at Tufts transforming our school for 1200 students. Little did they know they had ignited the maverick in me and the journey I was about to begin. I would welcome the opportunity to return to a symposium and be a mentor to others.