My purpose as a teacher is not to impart knowledge, but to guide students in the discovery of their own understanding.
As an accomplished engineer and educator, I have a diverse career history and experience that – combined with my formal education – has successfully aided me in developing educational programs that instruct, encourage, and motivate future technology minded students. I teach students the design process through PLTW engineering classes and FIRST as well as VEX Robotics competitions.
Teaching Areas and Subjects of Certification
The creation of physical artifacts in a community of learning helps student's better understand the world around them. I have experience managing and designing makerspace environments for over 7 years. In these spaces I teach students modern and classic manufacturing skills including: 3D printing, laser cutting, wood working, textile skills, and metal work. As well as the safe use of tools and equipment.
9 years of experience mentoring FIRST Tech Challenge, VEX Robotics Challenge, and VEX IQ Challenge Robotics Teams. Guiding diverse students to build the best robots they can with sound design and functional coding skills.
Biology & Physics Certification
Leveraging my formal education, with a bachelors of science in biomedical engineering and a masters of science in industrial engineering with a focus on mechanical systems I earned my certifications in these subjects. I believe students with a sound understanding of the physical world around them can create solutions for tomorrow's problems.
Sample lesson: Restructuring the Spaghetti Challenge
Target age: Grades 6-12
Learning Goals: Understanding of the design process. Understanding of the importance of prototyping
NGSS Standards Applied: MS-ETS1-3 - Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
The “Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge” is a widely used activity in design-based schools and programs. This challenge was originated by Tom Wujec and adapted by many different design institutions including the d.school at Stanford (Raz, 2021). The purpose of the lesson is to teach prototyping and iterative design to beginners of design thinking.
Prototyping is important in design thinking because it create a tangible form of your idea to test and validate. Before receiving proper training, students will often just turn in one prototype that leads to concept failure and negative returns for a project. So, practice in this skill is needed to be taught and developed to beginners of design thinking.
The Spaghetti challenge does this through a method where the participants fail in doing an iterative design by trying to deliver the best design in one go. Through this failure, participants are supposed to learn that prototyping is good. If the TED talk (Wujec, 2010) is used in the lesson, it shows the participants that kindergarteners have the natural propensity to prototype while business majors do not. The video also implies that now with the knowledge of this behind them, participants will be more likely to succeed in any ventures they follow. I question whether this method is appropriate for educating people in this topic and there may be a similar but better method to follow.
The target learner has little to no design experience in their repertoire and the concept of iterative design must be novel to them. If the learner does not fall under these criteria, the lesson is of too low a level though it can be used as a refresher or activity to act as an ice breaker for team development. The learner must want to do some sort of design based or career, in this instance robotics, and be aware that prototyping will assist them in the completion of their project goals.
The activity done with this lesson is immaterial, it can be done with any common, modified, or novel design challenge. In this case, we will be doing a modified aluminum foil boat challenge. Students will be given a short lesson on the design process. After this the challenge will be presented.
Students will be given a set of low cost supplies (Dollar Tree is your friend!) and assigned or allowed to choose groups/pairs. Once these groups have been chosen the challenge will be defined. Build a boat that can hold x number of weighted object (in this case marbles).
Once the challenge has started the students will be given a time limit, 20 minutes, where there is a secret 5 minute testing phase in the middle. Students will be allowed to plan, build, and ideally be testing their prototype. But, not be expected to. Ten minutes into the process the class will be paused and students will receive a mini lecture on prototyping and be asked to test their boats. If any are failing they are to take note of their design flaws and asked to try again!
Post challenge the students will be asked to complete a worksheet on their successes, failures, and what they learned from the iterative process of their design. This rectifies the failure forward model of the marshmallow challenge.