Day 75: Last Day of Teaching, First Day of School
August 14, 2022
Teaching at Fallon Youth Club in Fallon, Nevada
This was the last learning festival of our trip. It also turns out that the next day was the first day of the school year for the students! We didn’t have anymore learning festivals planned for the rest of the trip because most students would be too busy at school to be coming to our learning festivals. We didn’t have as many students show up because it was a Sunday, but that might have been a blessing in disguise. We were missing a workshop because Robert was away so we couldn’t handle as many students.
Overall the learning festival went well and the students were pretty engaged. We played pool, basketball, and ping pong with them during the short breaks between each session.
Now that we are done with our learning festivals, I’d like to reflect on the workshops and my teaching experience.
For those of you who don’t know, my workshop is about circuits and electronics. The goal was to help students gain an intuition understanding of current, voltage, and resistance using an analogy. Then I would be able to build off of that to teach them about parallel circuits, potentiometers, Ohm’s law, and some more advanced topics. Then we would have the students work on a worksheet to to solve some basic problems to learn how breadboarding works before handing out materials and letting them build simple circuits on their own.
But after teaching at a couple places, I realized that it was really difficult for the students to retain much of the information we try to teach. Often times the students would seem to understand what I am teaching, but ask again in half an hour and it seems as if what they’ve learned just went out the door. We realized that maybe trying to get the younger students to understand and retain some of the more advanced topics isn’t really possible in the 1.5 hours that we are teaching. So we decided to shift our focus to more of the hands on parts. We decided to skip many of our slides and jump straight into the hands on activities. We thought that even if students didn’t understand the circuits that they built work, they would at least be excited about the topic. Instead of trying to build up to more complicated circuits, we let the younger students add more lights or more buzzers to their circuits. Or they would try to get creative and let them choose certain colors of LEDs so they can make something that resembled police lights & sirens for example.
I noticed that this transition from being content driven to being engagement driven was happening to almost all of our workshops that we were teaching. For example, for Simone’s workshop she ended up added a soap bubble blowing section of her workshop where the students would blow soap bubbles to observe the structural color, but more importantly have fun! Maxwell decided to include a CAD (Computer Aided Desgin) demo where he designed a part (for example, an among us character or kirby) using feedback from the students instead of explaining in detail the different types of 3D printing.
Finishing up the last learning festival was also a sad reminder that our trip was slowly coming to its end. I could count the number of days left on one hand (as I am writing this blog). Soon it’ll be the last day of the trip, and for some of the Spokes members it’ll soon be the first day of the next semester at MIT.