May 11, 2023
Do you want to inspire your students to reach their full potential? Integrating technology and hands-on learning into your teaching approach could foster dynamic classroom environments that encourage creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we spoke with two innovative educators, Madison Lowry, and Jason Hubbard. They shared their experiences and insights about inspiring students to become creative problem-solvers through technology and hands-on learning.
Madison, a former math teacher, is a STEM educator and maker space specialist who advocates for providing students with tools and resources to create - breaking down the walls of traditional classrooms. Jason, a seasoned educator with over 20 years of experience teaching STEM to K-12 students, believes students learn best through experiential and inquiry-based learning–exposing them to emerging technologies and problem-solving challenges.
Through their dedication to providing the best learning experiences for their students, Madison and Jason discovered Infosys Foundation USA’s Pathfinders Online Institute and the content from Project Invent. Having access to this dynamic content on a free digital learning platform has significantly impacted their teaching practices, allowing them to expand their networks, connect with other educators who share their passion for hands-on learning, and access resources and mentoring that has empowered them as teachers.
When asked what inspired them to incorporate technology and hands-on learning into their teaching practice, Madison explained that she wanted to allow her students to tangibly apply what they were learning. By giving them the tools and resources to create, she saw the classroom walls come down, and the light bulbs go off. "It's not sage on the stage," she explained, but "Let's do this together." On the other hand, Jason believes that hands-on learning and technology are essential to engaging and motivating students. "I believe that students learn best through experiential and inquiry-based learning," he said. "If you give students a real-world problem to solve, they will rise to the challenge."
The impact of hands-on learning and technology on Madison and Jason's students is immeasurable. Through Project Invent they have had the opportunity to help their students create real-world solutions. They have seen their students benefit significantly from the skills and tools introduced in the workshops they now teach. Madison recalls a particular story about a struggling student who found purpose and passion through her class. When the student fixed a project using his learned skills, he realized some jobs required those skills. His attendance and behavior improved significantly, and he found something he was passionate about. "Something had meaning in that building for him," Madison said. For Jason, one of the most fulfilling moments was helping his students create a communication box for a non-verbal student, Bradley, which gave him a voice and transformed his behavior. "It was amazing to see the transformation in Bradley's behavior once he had a way to communicate with his caregivers," Jason said. "Moments like these remind me why I became an educator in the first place."
For educators looking to incorporate maker education, hands-on learning, STEM, and technology into their classrooms, there is valuable advice from these experienced teachers. Madison suggests jumping in and building knowledge alongside your students, being open to failure, and embracing the journey and process of learning. Jason advises educators to have an open mind, be flexible, and adapt teaching to the needs of their students.
Madison's “Making & Coding for Social Good with Micro:bit” workshop on the Foundation’s digital learning platform, the Pathfinders Online Institute, is a hands-on experience that provides educators with the tools and resources to excite their students about technology and hands-on learning. She explained, "My goal is to give enough tools to excite you to play with the tech. So you can excite your students to play with the tech." Similarly, Jason's “Making & Coding for Social Good with TinkerCAD” workshop focuses on enhancing educators' skills to engage students in STEM learning using technology and hands-on learning with TinkerCAD.
The experiences of these dedicated teachers showcase the importance of hands-on learning and technology in education. By giving students the tools and resources to create and solve real-world problems, they inspire creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, empowering them to find their passions and make a difference.
The partnership between Infosys Foundation USA and Project Invent has given educators valuable resources and mentoring to bring hands-on learning and technology into their classrooms.
By incorporating these practices into their teaching, educators can inspire their students to reach their full potential, breaking down the walls of traditional classrooms and creating dynamic learning environments. We encourage all educators to join the community of educators by creating an account on the Pathfinders Online Institute and continue learning alongside their students to inspire and empower them for the future!