Do you want to hear about STEAM education from an ISTE expert?
Steven Jones, co-chair of the ISTE STEM personal learning network, is a middle school STEAM educator from Riverside, Illinois.
Steven believes it is his job as a teacher to support his students in solving real-world problems today, and using technology in his lessons is essential in bringing that to fruition.
"It is our role as educators to support students. We can do this through facilitating the use of empathy and EdTech to improve our communities. This can be as simple as using a 3Doodler pen to create tactual artwork for someone with visual impairments, or as powerful as using artificial intelligence to better our society."-Steven Jones
In this Teacher Spotlight, Steven gives us insights on STEAM education in the classroom, and how educational technologies have a positive impact on learning in his middle school curriculum.
Thanks so much for meeting with us, Steven! Can you please tell us about yourself, the school you work at, your role at ISTE, and a brief vision of your goals as a leader in education?
I’ve been a STEAM Facilitator at Hauser Jr. High in Riverside Illinois for the last few years. The students that I work with are in 6th through 8th grade.
"I believe that the 3Doodler pens, the CAD software, and everything else we utilize in the classroom makes learning more hands-on, meaningful, and engaging. There is something powerful about being able to create something as a prototype or a functional tool to solve a problem in someone’s life."
I teach an introductory class to STEAM, and I offer advanced STEAM classes as students move through each grade level. Some of the big topics covered are Design Thinking and the Engineering Design Process. Along the way students also learn about CAD, 3D printing, and building circuits. Prior to my current position, I was an Instructional Technology Specialist for grades K-8 in Chicago for a number of years. Starting this fall, I will be covering Artificial Intelligence in 7th grade.
Due to the recent completion of the ISTE-GM AI Explorations class, I feel confident introducing it to my students. I am currently the Co-Chair of ISTE STEM PLN along with Charles Randolph. This past year at ISTE in Philadelphia, Jessica Shupik and I presented on how we implement STEAM and 3D printing in two different classroom environments.
I believe my background in information technology, programming, art, and design has put me in a unique position as an educator. My perspective is a bit different and I am able to share my unique skill set with students on a daily basis.
As an educator I seek to provide my students with the ability to creatively problem solve and work collaboratively to meet the needs of people right now. This year my 8th graders made an assistive bottle opener that is being used by people with arthritis in the UK, and my 6th graders made tactile matching games that are being used by students with visual impairments in a nearby school district.
Have you found any benefits using 3Doodler pens in the classroom?
I received my first 3Doodler pens about halfway through the 2018-19 school year. The benefits have been wonderful. We are still learning together, but there has been instant engagement, and the ability to create right away has been very exciting.
While we still use Tinkercad and Fusion 360 as well as our 3D printers, it can take a considerable amount of time for students to see the final design they can touch. Using the 3Doodler Create+ is a more hands on approach and lowers the bar of entry to 3D design for students. I teach six STEAM related classes across three grades and I have utilized the Create+ in half of those. My seventh graders have used them the most in the STEAM Design class.
In 7th grade, my students primarily use the 3Doodler pens in our architecture and natural disasters projects. Students have to pick an area that is greatly impacted by natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, and design a home to meet the needs of a family based on specific criteria and constraints. In addition to drawing appropriately scaled down blueprints of their home, they also have the choice of using the Create+ to make a prototype of furniture for specific rooms, or create the entire house. This is done in conjunction with CAD and Fused Filament Fabrication.
My 6th graders are currently using the Create+ to design prototypes for the games they are making for people with visual impairments. I have a few other students that are getting acquainted with the pens by going through some of the 3Doodler stencil tutorials with my support.
What other EdTech do you use in the classroom, and how do you feel that these technologies enhance learning amongst your students?
We use Arduino Uno, Raspberry Pi, Tinkercad, Fusion 360, and two 3D printers. Supplemental tools include Google Apps for Education, WeVideo, Soundtrap, Inkscape, and a few others. I believe that the 3Doodler pens, the CAD software, and everything else we utilize in the classroom makes learning more hands-on, meaningful, and engaging. There is something powerful about being able to create something as a prototype or a functional tool to solve a problem in someone’s life. These tools are helpful when I promote iteration and the continual improvement of ideas and designs.
How do you feel that EdTech is impacting the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow?
I think there are many wonderful EdTech tools available for free or for a moderate cost that help prepare students for future success in a wide range of fields. At the same time, they are tools and students need to learn how to use them safely, responsibly, and in a meaningful way.
It is our role as educators to support students. We can do this through facilitating the use of empathy and EdTech to improve our communities. This can be as simple as using a 3Doodler pen to create tactual artwork for someone with visual impairments, or as powerful as using artificial intelligence to better our society.
Would you like to share any success stories with us?
While most of my students enjoy learning and creating with CAD software, a small percentage of them don’t find it intuitive and they struggle with it. However, after I introduced the 3Doodler pen, they had a newfound interest in the class.
Those kinds of little successes are important to me. I am truly happy to find new tools that help all of my students become engaged learners. We will accomplish even more next school year after I take some time this summer to do some additional planning.
Please be sure to follow Steven Jones on Twitter (@mrjonesteaches) to keep up with all of his classroom happenings!
Inspired by Steven? Share your stories with us on Twitter and connect with the 3Doodler EDU community!