Last summer I was fortunate to experience a weeklong immersion in STEM education sponsored by the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education. There, I met Kelly Frederick, a sixth grade science teacher from Washington state and the two of us planned how our students would collaborate across two time zones on a math/science alternative energy unit with a focus on wind. Our unit was titled Blowin’ in the Wind.
Spending time and collaborating with an outstanding teacher leader like Kelly made me rethink what I do in the classroom. Specifically the students:
1. designed blades and calculated surface area,
2. measured the blades’ efficiency by comparing energy output,
3. conducted trials by changing the degree of pitch,
4. studied gear ratios, and
5. collected data to virtually present their findings to their counterparts.
To be honest, I was a bit fearful because I had never conducted a math unit based on scientific inquiry. Nor had I ever trusted the students to guide their own learning.
I need to do more of that.