Check in With STOMP Alum

March 23, 2020 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

Student Teacher Outreach Program (STOMP) is an outreach program where Tufts University students go into local classrooms and give K-12 students experiences in engineering design challenges. STOMP has been around for 20 years and we have a wonderful group of Alumni that have taken their STOMP experience and brought it into the world. Read below to learn about Alum, Melissa Moore, and how she has used what she has learned from STOMP in her teaching curriculum.

By Melissa Moore, 2016 STOMP Alum

My freshman year, like many other students, I was looking for a job and found an advertisement for a job that involved working with kids and playing with LEGO. I enjoyed both of those activities, so I sent in an application to be a STOMP fellow at Tufts CEEO. I felt supremely underqualified, considering I was majoring in Psychology as well as Peace and Justice Studies and the position was through a center in the School of Engineering. Regardless, I somehow got the job. That first semester, I learned that this job was so much more than teaching engineering. It involved thinking creatively, design, re-design, teamwork, failure, and lots of FUN! The learning happening in the classroom was unlike anything I had seen before, and I wanted to explore the field further to come up with new, exciting engineering lessons for my future students.

I now teach 5th grade math and science in Somerville. Because of my time teaching with STOMP, I intentionally include hands-on, team-based learning in as many lessons as I can. In addition, I sometimes see and hear fellow teachers shying away from the science or technology-based lessons because they feel under-qualified. Teaching with STOMP made me more confident that I can teach engineering to young students. In my lesson planning, I include the engineering design process to promote constant improvement on design models, and I encourage diverse ways of thinking. I have seen other teachers give students a step-by-step book of how to build a LEGO structure or solve the problem, and it seems like a lost opportunity for student creativity and productive struggle. In addition, my experience with STOMP and the engineering design process has influenced how I teach students about growth mindset. The inevitable failure of engineering designs lends well to conversations about how failure is okay and is a learning process. This makes students’ building and progression of having a growth mindset more fun and internally competitive than if I were just to have students go over their math tests. My time with STOMP has influenced the teacher I am today. Were it not for that experience, my students would have lost out on opportunities to be creative, think in new ways, struggle with and overcome feelings of failure, and make discoveries for themselves. I am grateful that I was able to learn so much about education and engineering, and I hope that other STOMP fellows have the opportunity to apply their experience as much as I have!

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