Hello SparkFun followers! I am the newest member to join the education team here at SparkFun. I have the honor of writing one of the first entries in the learn.sparkfun.com blog. In an attempt to sort out our news updates, new product posts, and general education-related materials, we are launching a new blog for EDU at SparkFun. We hope to be able to provide a place to post:
- unique insights to things we’re seeing in schools, libraries, makerspaces, and in the community.
- travel or event reports from our conferences and workshops
- updates from the SparkFun RV and the National Tour
- general cool tips and tricks for using Arduino in the classroom.
So, let me introduce myself: I am a former high school physics and math teacher from Overland High School in Aurora, CO - Go Blazers! In addition to teaching physics and math, I have coached and mentored a FIRST robotics team at Overland for the past three years.
I discovered my love of teaching while working in a museum in Minnesota, and I have always looked for ways to incorporate engineering design, construction, and tinkering in my classroom. I discovered Arduino in a trade magazine and started using microcontrollers and general electronics in my classroom. At the end of January, I was offered a job here as SparkFun’s Education Engineer. I have been tasked to put both a teacher’s eye and an engineer’s perspective on materials we are developing for the classroom environment.
While I was torn about leaving the classroom, the work that we’re doing here is unique, and I know that we are making big differences in the experiences we provide for our students. Since I came onboard, our small team has been traveling a lot! And I mean a lot! A few areas that we (just the education team at SparkFun) have been to since February include:
- North Dakota Science Teachers Association Conference (Bismark, ND)
- Technology Students Association Conference (Denver, CO)
- Engineering Open House @UIUC (Urbana-Champaign, IL)
- Make2Learn Symposium (Chicago, IL)
- National Robotics Conference (Marion, OH)
- POSSCON (Columbia, SC)
- National Science Teachers Association National Conference (San Antonio, TX)
- Cambridge Science Festival (Cambridge, MA)
- DesignWest (San Jose, CA)
- Pioneers In Engineering (Berkeley, CA)
- Girls Exploring Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (GESTEM) (Denver, CO)
- STEMosphere Share Fair (Denver, CO)
- National Robotics Week at Wings Over the Rockies (Denver, CO)
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Staff Training (Portland, OR)
- Hillsboro School District Training (Hillsboro, OR)
- ADX (Portland, OR)
That’s quite the list, and I know that I’ve left a few off! These are just the major conferences, workshops, and trainings that we’ve attended. We have also been having several smaller informal meetings throughout our area to help empower teachers to use electronics and foster creativity in their classes.
What I love most is that the Arduino environment is simple to use and low-cost. Once we’ve shown teachers and kids some of the basics, the sky is the limit to what they can build. Kids come up with amazing projects that integrate the Arduino with sensors, motors, LEDs, and buzzers!
When you provide real and authentic opportunities for kids to create something of their own, they learn faster and to a greater depth than we can ever achieve in a traditional classroom setting. This is where I see STEM education moving. Tying together the various subject areas in a project-based curriculum where kids get to build, create, and invent things of their own.
There is no doubt that it has been an exciting transition to work here.
So, what am I working on?
In no particular order, here are a few of the projects that are on my plate:
- Re-designing our Microcontrollers for Educators curriculum.
- Cross-referencing our learning materials with Next Generation Science Standards and the Colorado Common Core Standards.
- Updating and revising support materials for teachers and educators around the Arduino SparkFun Inventor’s Kit (SIK).
- Developing electronics and robotics curriculum based on the Arduino platform.
- Developing tools to integrate sensors from popular science equipment companies with Arduino.
Something else you’d like to see?
Let us know - email us at: email@example.com.