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Oklahoma’s Creative Spirit

Value Added: STEAMmaker camps show teachers and students how hands-on learning takes education to a whole new level.
Oklahoma’s Creative Spirit

Oklahoma’s Creative Spirit

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Show Details

Show 1632: Oklahoma’s Creative Spirit
Air Date: August 7, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, trying to make the connection between the needs of industry and the interests of a young student may be the $64,000 question when it comes to STEM education. And it may all come down to something as simple as how we teach. Joining me now is our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Well, Rob, earlier in the show we met ESSDACK consultant Ginger Lewman, and this summer we had the opportunity to see Ginger’s ideas come to life at a camp for teachers.

Courtney Maye: When pigs fly [crowd cheering] and cat’s ears wave, learning is taking place. And traditional book learning it’s not, but a hands-on approach that grabs students’ attention. Ginger Lewman is an education consultant with ESSDACK and the creator of a camp called STEAMMaker.

Ginger Lewman: STEAMMaker camp has actually been a brainchild of mine for the past couple of years. I’ve been lucky, fortunate to be able to grow this sort of environment. It stems out of the background of STEM, and instead of it being the traditional science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which is great, it’s actually science, tinkering, engineering, aesthetics and mathematics.

Courtney: Camilla Shaw says she would be excited to come to school.

Shaw: I love hands-on activities. I can’t stand sitting down and just sitting there. I’ve gotta do something.

Courtney: And while the kids are having fun, Ginger says it’s the teachers she hopes to help.

Lewman: It’s really a camp for teachers, and the kids are here to help the teachers see how it might work with their kids and their own environment. What the teachers are learning is, they’re learning how to support while letting go. I’m not the sage on the stage. I don’t really want to be the guide on the side either. I want to be the meddler in the middle. I want to be the one who sees where they’re at and pushes them farther. I don’t care if they come to me a genius in the classroom already knowing things. Great! There’s more to learn. And I don’t care if they come to me really far behind. I’m gonna start where they are and push ’em, and that everybody gets to learn something new every day. So the teachers are learning how to help kids get through struggles without yelling and say, “Get to work.” Man, no quicker way to kill energy than yelling at a kid.

Courtney: And teachers like Jeanne Hart --

Jeanne Hart: What do you want to do to the head?

Courtney: -- are happy with what they’re seeing.

Jeanne Hart: I have watched my kids really blossom, and it’s so exciting because even the quiet ones, even though if they don’t say much, they’re doing. My quietest one is jumping in and doing things, and we go, “Who wants to do this?” He just gets on it and does it, and it’s amazing to watch.

Courtney: Just ask Sam. Sam Robson is Hart’s student and says it’s exciting to learn.

Sam Robson: It’s just like, the hands-on aspect of everything we did, allows us to learn so much more than just a lecture at the front of the room and us taking notes or something, you know? Whenever we’re there, whenever we’re teaching each other and learning together, I think it’s just so much more powerful.

Courtney: Elementary school teacher Mary Eddins says this type of instruction does away with some traditional stereotypes.

Mary Eddins: Growing up I’ve kind of seen, you know, like, jobs for women, jobs for men, like not that mixture. My girls, when they were in deconstruction, they took apart a DVD player, put it back together, and it was just so great to just kind of get those stereotypes erased for the three days.

Robson: Whenever you’re working as a team, everybody feels equal and like they should play a part, and I think it really helps you to learn as yourself.

Hart: Kids are so much more passionate, and they want to do it. They ask me, they said, “Can we learn this way all the time?”

Courtney: Making a difference in how a child learns, one teacher at a time.

Courtney: Now, Ginger says the purpose of STEAMMaker Camp is to show teachers and students there are multiple ways to learn and be engaged, yet this hands-on approach in her eyes is extremely effective.

Rob: Now, most of the students in your story look to be junior high maybe or early high school, is it aimed at other children as well?

Courtney: Yeah, they start as early as pre-K and even to second grade. And that’s because Ginger says that students start learning at a young age by exploring and tinkering and this is how they’re able to learn before they even read or write. And once they go to school, she says a lot of this creativity is lost because they’re taught to color inside the lines and that there’s a right way and only one right way. But she says this isn’t the way of the world, and if we want our students to be prepared for the world, we have to start teaching them at a young age.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.