“We’re DOCENTS!” My walkSTEM Club Members quickly responded in unison to students on the playground questioning their intense discussion about the size of a tree stump and how they could use this information to calculate the tree’s age.
With support from Koshi and the talkSTEM team, I decided to bring walkSTEM to our school community by piloting a walkSTEM enrichment club after school with a small group of 3rd and 4th Graders. In a few short weeks, these students have demonstrated their incredible capacity for developing bilingual tours of the school based on mathematical concepts. They have inquired about the mathematics of sound, brainstormed the logic behind rectangular bulletin boards, and wondered how changing the angle of a swing set impacts its function. They are proud of their campus, and eager to share what they have learned about it with the school community as official Mount Auburn walkSTEM docents.
In an educational environment too often driven by the results of high-stakes testing, students need an opportunity to apply math concepts to the world around them in an innovative, creative way. The walkSTEM initiative does just that, and it’s such an easy (think: low or no- materials cost) way to engage students in higher order thinking processes. I would encourage anyone considering starting a walkSTEM enrichment program at their school to try it: designate a space, set criteria and constraints, provide students with a basic template, then sit back and watch them design, learn and create!
Mary Cary Peterson holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, and spent several years working in the nonprofit sector before returning to school for education. She completed a field- based residency program with the Friends’ School of Boulder Teacher Preparation Program, and taught in Colorado and Tennessee prior to moving to Dallas in August 2017. Mary currently works as the STEAM Coordinator at Mount Auburn Elementary, a Dallas ISD school. She is passionate about developing innovative learning opportunities for students.