Featured #MSUrbanSTEM Sustainability Fellow: Tasha Henderson

Sustainability Fellow: Tasha Henderson

Bio “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

Tasha Henderson is a S.T.E.M teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She strives to be a life-long learner and has a deep passion for the sciences and technology. Prior to her career in education, she was a Senior Database Administrator for the Chicago Board of Trade for several years.  She is a Chicago native and enjoys the downtown scenery and summer festivals. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and attending events in theater, dance and music.

Teaching STEM in the Urban classroom: DREAM IT Recap

My experience with teaching  STEM in an Urban classroom has been one of my life’s most rewarding experiences! In class we explore the world around us through an engineering lens. We use various items from our everyday life that has engineering embedded as it foundation. The guiding question in many of my engineering classes is “Engineering is all around us in our world. How can engineering be explored in everyday materials?” This question has and will continue to drive the teaching and learning in my classroom.

Since children are born engineers they are always fascinated with the world they are born into! To understand the world we live in, it is vital that we foster a foundation for engineering and technological literacy in people and especially our children. There are several goals in my engineering classes that is the driving force to my lessons surrounding elementary engineering. Listed below are goals used from Engineering is Elementary (EiE):

  • Exposure to the engineering field through the student’s eyes.
  • Nearly everything in the human world has been touched by engineering.
  • How the society they live in is influenced by engineering concepts.
  • The profession of engineering is easily attainable through proper education.
  • Exposure and education of various fields of engineering.
  • Engineers are from all races, ethnicities, and genders.
  • Technology was designed by engineers and created through problem solving.
  • Engineering is not a profession of isolation. Teamwork is vital for product development.

The goals listed above are key to the field of engineering because various items we use in our everyday life are birthed from disciplines that are practiced by professional engineers. As I reflected on my MSU Implementation of my DREAM-IT project, I would definitely agree my goals are being accomplished through the pedagogy of Engineering Practices on a daily basis. These Engineering practices are the core standard from NGSS (K-2.ETS1-1, K-2.ETS1-2, K-2.ETS1-3, 3-5.ETS1-1, 3-5.ETS1-2, & 3-5.ETS1-3) to support my lessons.

I continue to see a transformation in my students understanding of what exactly is engineering? Engineering is not just a process, but can be concrete items that are composed or decomposed. Communicating the designs and process to a broader audience is a means to help others understand your ideas. The experiences and skills my students have access to as by the end of various lesson units will continue to encompass the following:

  • Envision their own abilities as a future engineer
  • Know and apply the Engineering Design Process
  • Employ their understanding to carefully solve problems and use their creativity
  • Learn from their failures and troubleshoot during the design and test phases of product development
  • Utilize technology as a tool to communicate their findings and designs.
  • Integrate Mathematics and Science in the engineering concepts.

The concepts that my students may find challenging with envisioning themselves as future engineers is the environment they live in on a daily basis. Many may not know an engineer or even know what a engineer does for an occupation. The Engineering Design Process is explained as something they may already do or part take in without even realizing it. Such as fixing their bike or a flat tire on a bike. Making plans to fix it and testing it to see if it actually works! This will  continue to tie into failures and troubleshooting. Showing my students that failures do not  have to be tied to a negative platform, but rather is a natural progression to product development.