It wasn’t long after Tracy Hewitt began her career as an elementary school teacher that she discovered the lack of teachers who looked forward to utilizing science, math or any of the other STEM disciplines into their curriculum.
In returning to school to receive her Elementary Education Masters of Arts in Education with a concentration in STEM, Hewitt looked to become a well-rounded teacher, while also addressing a need. Hewitt,
a third grade teacher at IC Imagine charter school in Asheville, is scheduled to receive
her degree Friday, May 14.
“I have learned so much in STEM and the general core courses,” Hewitt said. “But I think the best part has been being inspired and encouraged to try out STEM units in my class. When I first started the program, I was excited about it. But it takes a lot of work and coordination and materials. As time has gone on, I’ve realized that once you get the ball rolling with it and once you start building up the materials, it’s actually pretty easy and really rewarding to teach STEM.”
Hewitt’s latest STEM teaching moment came after showing her class video of the recent
Mars rover landing in February. The students were excited and asking Hewitt numerous
While pondering her next STEM unit, Hewitt decided to have her students create their own Mars rover. She supplied the students with a motor, batteries, a propeller, wheels and an axle, and a straw. She also gave them dimensions of the cardboard that needed to be used. They worked in groups of two and three to complete the assignment.
“They had to figure out how to get it to work,” Hewitt said. “I knew it was going
to take some trial and error because it took me a little bit to get it. But that’s
the cool part because they won’t get it right away. When they start getting it, it
becomes exciting and they learn from it.”
The space aspect of the Mars rover satisfied the science standards, while measuring the cardboard and the height of the rover completed the math standards, Hewitt said.
Hewitt is in her fifth year of teaching. Since joining WCU’s MAEd program, she said she found herself using STEM more often in her classroom.
“I can just tell when I lead my students in STEM projects, they get excited and interested and make their own connections outside of what I am telling them to think and feel about things,” Hewitt said. “They just love it.”
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