Since the Fall of 2011, I have been the director of two, highly regarded extracurricular activities at my middle school. I am currently the director of the Northern Virginia Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NVRSF) and the director of the MEH-TV Morning Announcements.
This year, I am leading my participating middle school students in the NVRSF, which is a local science fair that will provide students with the opportunity to participate in the (ISEF) Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The NVRSF is an ISEF-affiliated fair and is the first round of this competition for my middle school students. This competition is significant because it stimulates the curious young minds of my students, and provides them with the opportunity to showcase their talent on a national level. This impacts student learning because students are using inquiry and hands-on investigation in order to make a discovery or solve a problem using science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For example, two of my students are using inquiry in order to conduct an experiment to test the adhesive strength of different types of glue on balsa wood. These students will be using STEM in order to yield quantifiable results. This is significant because science, technology and engineering are basic skills that twenty-first century employees will be expected to have.
As the director, I have been the teacher to get my students involved in inquiry-based learning where they can practice problem-solving in a controlled environment. This is significant because when students are provided with the opportunity of choosing their own topics and designing their own procedures, they are more likely to take ownership of their work and become personally invested in learning. This impacts student learning because this science fair project allows students to practice scientific thinking and problem-solving, improvise when a procedure doesn’t work out as predicted, and constructively critique each other’s work. For example, two of my students who are working together on their experiment needed a way to effectively communicate and collaborate on their project outside of school. To solve this problem they performed research and decided to try the Google Docs application to share a common document that they can both simultaneously edit at home. Now, the students can successfully collaborate on their project inside and outside of school.
Here is an example of the MEH-TV Morning Announcements