Written by Mallory Morris, Education Media Intern.
Did you know Thinkery brings STEAM-focused learning experiences to classrooms across Austin? We do!
Each fall, Thinkery provides hands-on professional development workshops to
program participants— and each spring, we spend six to eight weeks supporting our cohort with onsite, technology-based activities and lessons. Mallory Morris, our education media intern, spent the first half of the spring semester visiting participating EdExchange classrooms, capturing photos and videos of students exploring STEAM concepts. (And having a blast, too.) EdExchange
Get a behind-the-scenes look at our
program—and stay tuned for her second installment at the end of the spring semester! EdExchange
Friday, January 26: Going into my first elementary school visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect—but what I saw from Mrs. Lopez’s second grade class during my first experience with the EdExchange program was amazing. When the students saw they were getting to work with Mr. Jesse from Thinkery, they visibly lit up. They were engaged. They raised their hands. They learned about coding and tackled circuitry all while having fun with music and laughing with their classmates. I loved seeing the pure joy these students got out of learning—I can’t wait for my next classroom visit.
Tuesday, January 30: Today’s class of third graders had been learning about the solar system during science, and they were “over the moon” to learn when Mr. Jesse from Thinkery brought along robotic mice to be coded on the computer. Together, they programmed these “mice” to travel across galaxies of their creation. Students imagined how vast the universe is when they got creative and had the mice carry “cheese” from planet to planet on mats that were created to scale.
Friday, February 2: Today, Mrs. Ricter’s class combined the “technology” and “arts” parts of STEAM to create stop-motion animation movies. They created story boards and backdrops and characters to create three scenes worth of work for their school’s film festival. I was blown away by the creativity shown by these second graders. Their enthusiasm for their projects—as well as their classmates’ projects—made this visit so much fun. I cannot wait to see their finished projects!
Monday, February 5: Fifth graders at Cook Elementary teamed up to make create stop-motion animation video tutorials for chocolate chip cookies. (Yum!) From storyboarding to creating their own “ingredients” to actually making the videos and combining them with other students’ videos, I loved seeing the teamwork and creativity from this class.
Tuesday, February 6: Today I had the opportunity to visit some first graders at Metz Elementary. This has been my youngest class yet, and boy was I impressed by what these kids could do. Mr. Cody taught them how to make linkages with stationary and moving pivots—and everything else that goes with them. This project was messy and involved and sometimes a struggle for some of the students, but when they got their linkages working, they were overjoyed. (And more than excited to show Mr. Cody, the rest of their classmates and me!)
Monday, February 12: The class I went to today was doing more stop-motion animation videos. As a film major myself, this is one of my favorite projects to watch the kids do. With the help of Mr. Jesse and their art teacher, the students worked on making storyboards of the food chain and then creating their own stop-motion videos from the storyboards.
Tuesday, February 13: This afternoon, I had the opportunity to revisit a school I already visited earlier in the semester. Last time, they had been programming robotic mice and this time they were using Ozobots. I had never heard of Ozobots before today, and I was jealous that I didn’t get to spend the full hour playing with them myself (though one of the groups did let me have a turn or two—shhhhh). Students used the Ozobots to travel “cross country” on a map of the United States. With their partner’s help, they planned a road trip full of programmed twists and turns using the special color coding that they drew. It was fun to see them try all sorts of different combinations—and to watch their faces light up when it finally worked!
Friday, February 16: Today, I visited school that was working with linkages. This class was older, but I was equally in awe of what they were able to make. They were as creative as they were messy—and with all the cardboard and pipe cleaners and markers and construction paper, etc., believe me they were messy. One of the students made an umbrella protecting someone from the rain, another made a toolbox full of moving hammers and drills, and one of the tables made an entire zoo of animals with giraffes and flamingos. But, my personal favorite was the student who made a hug machine for her friend that didn’t like to be hugged. And when they were showing off their projects at the end of class, everyone wanted a turn using the hug machine.
Tuesday, February 26: I love revisiting schools that I’ve been to before! Today, I had the opportunity to go back and see some the first graders I had visited earlier in the semester. It was amazing to see how much they had grown in such a short amount of time. They made linkages based on some of the books Mr. Cody had read them. I loved seeing their creativity as they decorated their own creations and their generosity as they helped their classmates.
Friday, March 2: Unfortunately, this was my last EdExchange visit for Session One. However, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit this school, it was the perfect last visit. The students made their own Zoetropes that were so impressive, and I loved watching with them! This first session was so much fun. I loved visiting the classes, taking pictures and video, and learning a thing or two myself. I can’t wait for Session Two!
Interested in learning more about Thinkery’s EdExchange program?
Click here to learn more about our professional development program for educators!
EdExchange is made possible with the generous support of 3M, Applied Materials, Capital One, City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Dell, KDK Harman and National Instruments.