This post was written by Julia Vallera, an artist and educator working with Hive NYC on youth-serving projects.
This summer, Hive NYC welcomed a unique group of six educators and mentors to our team. Hive NYC chose them from a pool of very qualified applicants that came to us through the Maker Education Initiative’s Maker Corps and National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) Summer Pathways for Innovation Teaching Fellows program. Maker Corps was created to introduce maker-oriented experiences in existing educational programs across the nation, and the NSLA Teaching Fellows aimed to gain experience teaching in informal settings (with a focus on making/doing as learning), and to develop and implement resources that align with the principles of Connected Learning as well as Common Core Standards.
Together, with their unique range of skills and expertise, this dynamic team, comprised of three NYC DOE teachers and three recent graduates/makers, contributed engaging learning experiences to Hive NYC’s summer initiatives. Through the process of working together on Hive NYC’s cornerstone programs–our deep alignment with the NYC Summer Quest program and the Mozilla Maker Party campaign–they had the unique opportunity to share skills and expertise and learn so much from each other… and we learned a ton from them all.
Our Summer Maker Dream Team
- Claudia D’Adamo, a 2013 graduate in Computer Science at Wheaton College (Maker Corps)
- Do Hyung Kwon, a recent Architecture graduate from UC Berkeley (Maker Corps)
- Alex Lee, a Materials Science & Engineering graduate student at Texas A&M University (Maker Corps)
- Monica Encarnacion, a bilingual elementary technology and 2nd grade teacher at PS274 – The New American Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park (NSLA Teaching Fellow)
- Gina Tesoriero, an 8th grade learning specialist and STEM educator at MS 104 – Simon Baruch Middle School (NSLA Teaching Fellow)
- Marie Tesi, a middle school science teacher and STEM educator at MS 390 (NSLA Teaching Fellow)
Between their collaborative efforts and the number and diversity of events they helped to facilitate, it was Hive NYC’s most productive summer yet. This team served as educators, mentors, participants and organizers, and after each event they created wonderful reflections, webpages, educational tools, curriculum and more.
We kicked off summer with the Come Out and Play Jam, a live-action game design challenge where Claudia and Do served as mentors and designers. They helped teams of young people create real-world games, playtest them and compete for prizes. Together they even digitized the “how-to” pamphlet so it could be widely dispersed and remixed.
Next up came the New York Hall of Science Learning Lab Pop-Up and Young Rewired State NYC (YRS NYC) hackathon. Alex, Do, Gina and Claudia stepped forward as mentors for both events and started to come together as a team to see how they could support each other. At YRS NYC, Claudia guided Gina (who had never been to a hackathon) on how to mentor young programmers and help with team leadership. Do and Claudia also worked together at one point to reflect on the event and how it was going. Do felt “less able to help the participants in technical aspects of their project” so he took a lead role and “tried to help with ideation and organization.” Claudia noted that she “mostly spent time with the beginner teams” because she “was able to help with their questions and they were the ones that needed more experience with programming.”
With a few events under their belt, the team was ready to step it up with the planning, preparation and facilitation of a series of Hive integration events for NYC Summer Quest, a five-week summer learning program in the Bronx that provides students with fun, hands-on enrichment while strengthening their academic skills.
Reverse Field Trips
Unlike traditional field trips where students travel somewhere for the day, Hive NYC brought the field trip to the Summer Quest students. This involved tons of planning on our part and communication was key. To start, we arranged planning calls with the three NYC Summer Quest sites we planned to visit (Wingspan Arts @ MS 241, OASIS @ IS313 and Partnership with Children (PwC) @ MS 296). During these calls we gathered pertinent information from each site, including curriculum themes, total number of students, tech capacity, optional activities and staffing support.
The theme and student volume varied at each site, making the planning process a bit challenging given our two-week timeframe. During this time we all got together for several meetings to design, prototype, curriculum-ize and user-test the learning activities that we’d later facilitate.
We used a combination of digital tools to document our planning process, including Etherpad, Mural.ly, Google Docs and Dropbox. The team set goals, tested digital tools and brought their individual skills and expertise to the mix–everything from building circuits, enabling learning, successful mentoring, website design, event documentation, aligning to Common Core standards and more. The result was a modular, two-hour workshop where middle school students would design paper circuits using LEDs, connect them to each other via a large city map, and create webpages to document their work.
The themes for each Summer Quest site were varied–Ancient Egypt, Immigration, Civil War and neighborhood planning. We facilitated three workshops at each site and between 40 and 70 students participated in each workshop. We decided to make the activities remixable so we could re-use materials and minimize the amount of prep time. We recycled the bridges, circuits, templates and process at each site. This freed up more time to customize the underlying map, design activity prompts, document the process and create website templates.
The Reverse Field trips were a big hit. The kids had fun, they learned new skills and the Summer Quest staff and administration shared lots of encouraging feedback.
After nine(!) successful reverse field trips the team geared up for their final event–the Summer Quest Maker Party at the Bronx Public Library Center. We hosted 300+ Summer Quest middle school students and led them through a full day of circuit building, webmaking and designing. We were joined by nine other Hive NYC member organizations, who were engaging in a range of hands-on activities, including stop-motion animation with the New York Hall of Science and Museum of the Moving Image, digital beat-making with World Up, printmaking with the Bronx Museum, creating sand rangolis with the Rubin Museum and more. NYC Schools’ Chancellor Dennis Walcott even stopped by to check it out!
To celebrate our awesome Maker Corps and NSLA team, Hive NYC and New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) threw a culminating party and exhibition on August 9. NYSCI also hosted Maker Corps members this summer so it was the perfect partner for this celebration. Everyone chatted, showcased their makes and explored new ideas. We even made a spontaneous inflatable worm!
In addition to these core events, our Maker Corps members and NSLA Teaching Fellows also had the opportunity to network and connect with other members of Hive NYC. They conducted site visits where they could see and learn from informal educational practices at work, and always offered to lend a hand.
The team reflected on their experiences on various websites (check out Monica’s, Gina’s and Marie’s) and this blog. This process helped shape their overall experience and added to the robust documentation Hive NYC gained from this collaboration.
Our NSLA Teaching Fellows have been thinking about how to apply their summer experience to their work with students during the school year. In reflecting with her colleagues from NSLA, Gina shared, “Bringing together a group of educators that spanned elementary school to college and a group of Maker Corp members that are recent graduates in architecture, civil/mechanical, and computer science, has proven to be a very successful way to plan summer learning experiences for students. Being a part of that group has offered me an amazing opportunity to learn about things I have never learned before. The best part is, I can’t wait to show my students all the great things I learned about this summer when I see them in September.”
Monica added, “I definitely plan to apply and implement all the tools and ideas I’ve learned during my experience as an NSLA Teaching Fellow. It’s not everyday that teachers get opportunities to truly explore making and learning before trying it out in their own classrooms. I’m really thankful for this experience.”
Marie really summed it up when she explained her plan for the upcoming school year: “I think my focus in the upcoming school year will mirror my own learning process through this program. I want to emphasize student reflections, assessing both process and product. I want my students to use blogging and Webmaker tools (Thimble, Popcorn) to showcase their own version of what we learn throughout the year. We all know our students have phones, iPods, and use many other forms of technology including the Internet. My goal will be to require my students to use different forms of media and technology to create several reflection pieces for their science portfolio. While I don’t expect all of my students to use the internet to present their work, I am hoping a large number of them will get excited and maybe use the tools we learned in a few of their portfolio pieces… maybe even as a springboard into at-home or DIY summer projects.”
Hive NYC is grateful and fortunate to have had this team of inspired, creative and enthusiastic makers and educators working with us this summer. So much collaboration, making, remixing and innovation was accomplished, and we hope they learned as much from us as we did from them. Big shout out to Claudia, Alex, Do, Gina, Marie and Monica. Thanks for your help and for making this summer so amazing!