Thursday, March 7, 2019


Dot and Dash

Being a STEM coach at a public school and a mom has its advantages. I get the newest STEM toys and gadgets and I get to try them out on my own family! Everyone wants to get toys for their kids that will teach them something, but that’s not even enough anymore. We need toys that challenge our kids to solve problems and to think and look at things differently. So now everyone is on the STEM kick and every toy supposedly is a STEM toy now because that’s what sells. Well, hopefully I can give you some insight into some of my favorites and then you can decide for yourself which STEM toys are for your family. My favorites are the robots. Robots are the toys of the future and several companies have some products that I just absolutely love and so do my students and my own child.

Let’s start with Dot and Dash. IMG_0004.JPG
Dash stands a little under 7 inches and looks like 3 balls stuck to a body with a head on top. The head has a single eye that is made up of 12 led lights. If you flip Dash over you will see 2 large wheels and another smaller wheel that allow Dash to have a pretty good range of movement. Now this is a robot that you operate using a supported Android or iOS device and you can get a full list of those on their website Dash links up to your device via bluetooth and has really simple on screen demands that make sure they are linked and are super kid friendly. Dash is sold as a robot for kids 5 and up and I was interested to see just how my 5 year old test subject would fare with the robot.

Dash has varying levels of difficulty apps, but I would strongly suggest getting your feet wet first with the GO app. It makes Dash a simple remote controlled robot that your child can move around. Simple.

My 5 year old immediately picked it up and without any direction from me started using the GO app right away and moving Dash. This app is nice, but I don’t think most people will buy Dash to simply let their kid control it like a remote controlled vehicle. Once the novelty of simply moving Dash around, we moved onto the Path app. This app allows you to program Dash to follow a path. I think this is really where I saw my child’s imagination take flight. She had her own personal chariot that would deliver messages to the Queen of her Kingdom. It was a lot of fun and I saw her really using problem solving strategies and trial and error to get Dash to avoid obstacles along the way. IMG_0003.JPG

She then ventured to the Blockly app that is a drag and drop programming app that says it’s for kids 8 and up. I would strongly suggest letting your little ones try this one. There may be struggles to understand at first, but once they understand the drag and drop then the possibilities truly are endless. WIth this app, you can make Dash talk, change the colors on it, look left or right, move in any direction and as far as you want. You can pretty much program Dash to do just about anything you want, within its parameters. My daughter enjoyed this app but needed my help really understanding how it worked. So it made it a great activity for us to do together and  make up magical adventures that Dash had to perform. The other app Xylo requires the xylophone accessory, but it is worth it. Your child can make dash into a musician and do musical performances with just a little programming and imagination.


This robot is one that I strongly recommend. It sparks curiosity and creativity and helps foster critical thinking skills. Not only will your child be immersed in the world of robots but also learning the beginning stages of coding in a fun way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Professional Development Grant

Engineering is Elementary

I need to attend the EiE Teacher Educator Institute. It will help me develop a deeper understanding and pedagogy of the EiE curriculum and gain foundational knowledge of STEM and the engineering design process.

My Students

We are one of the largest campuses in our district, which provides unique challenges in meeting the specific needs of all students.
Additionally, we are a full Title I campus with a vibrant bilingual program.
With 60% of our population on Free and Reduced lunch, we are faced with obstacles that require us to advocate passionately for our students. Many of our students have gaps in learning and background experiences which translate into a significant disadvantage when it comes to academic performance and eventually can lead to higher drop-out rates.
We aspire to level the playing field for all of our students. Global trends are heading toward the areas of math, science and engineering, but our students are less and less likely to pursue these subjects after elementary school. We want to give them opportunities that they never thought possible.

My Project

I am requesting funding to attend the EiE Teacher Educator Institute at the Museum of Science in Boston. These workshops are hands-on and learner driven. From attending, I will develop a deeper understanding of the pedagogy and structure of the EiE curriculum, and I'll take away a large collection of valuable resources to help me facilitate my own EiE workshops for my campus.
The EiE curriculum has been proven effective for improving student learning of science concepts required to understand the problems and processes of engineering.
This Institute will allow me to gain foundational knowledge of technology, engineering, and the engineering design process.
The Teacher Educator Institute will prepare me to facilitate immersive, active EiE workshops for teachers both on my campus and in my district. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Benefits of project- and problem-based learning

In both project- and problem-based learning (PBL), students are pulled through the curriculum by a meaningful question to explore, an engaging real-world problem to solve, or a challenge to design or create something. Before they can accomplish this, students need to inquire into the topic by asking questions and developing their own answers. To demonstrate what they learn, students create high-quality products and present their work to other people. Students often do project work collaboratively in small teams, guided by the teacher.
  • Length of the project can vary.
  • Typical phases include a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Projects can take many forms.
A well-designed and well-implemented project helps students see how school connects to the outside world.
Project- and problem-based learning enable teachers to work more closely with students, acting like a coach instead of the deliverer of knowledge. Teachers are the project managers and are responsible for teaching the content knowledge and skills that students need. Teachers provide structured lessons, facilitate the inquiry process, and guide students through the process of creating products. Doing PBL doesn’t mean giving students free reign to do and learn what they want.
Project- and problem-based learning are student-centered. It’s a fundamental shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. The process aims to use the power of authentic problem solving to engage students and enhance their learning and motivation. Typically, these learning styles conclude with the development of a project or artifact of some kind and results in possible solutions to problems presented.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Christie Teacher Olympics 2016

Who doesn't love the Olympics? The world's best and finest on display for all of the world to see? Well, we believe we have some of the best and finest teachers around, so we wanted to give them a chance to show off their teaching abilities in a super competitive team sport way. What better way than TEACHER OLYMPICS? So during the week before school started we created a variety of events that teams of teachers would compete in. Those events included: Synchronized stapling, Sharpened pencil relays, Carpool karaoke, and finally a relay where teams had to collate a packet, color a page, cut out a design and finally unscramble letters for a bulletin board. Here are the slides to the events.
 Teacher Olympics

So here's what we learned: 
  1. Teachers are super competitive. Even when sharpening pencils.
  2. We needed team building activities to bring us together as a staff.
  3. Administrators lead by example. Our principal was in there, stapling, karaoking and collating packets with the rest of them. It really set the tone.
  4. Work hard. Play hard. 
  5. Our teachers are olympians in their own right!
So here are some of the events:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mickelson ExxonMobil STEM Academy

Super excited that I was selected to attend this amazing Academy this summer. Check it out here!