Earlier in June, I had an interesting conversation with my assistant principal:
Me: Hi John, can I ask you a question about the computer lab?
John: I’m glad you’re here. I was just talking with our friends in Bermuda. They’re hosting a STEM camp this summer and they need a teacher with robotics experience to help them out with it.
Me: Wait. Help them out, as in?
John: In Bermuda.
I laughed, as I had just been talking with my husband and kids about reducing the complexity of our lives, slowing the pace and easing the pressure. Saying no to more things, not over-committing. But I told John I would think about it and discuss it with the family. Although it doesn’t fit our new core values, we could not resist the opportunity. I asked if I could bring the family. We’re all going to Bermuda. I will work, and the hubby and kids will sightsee during the day. We’ll have evenings and the weekend to have fun there as a family, and during the workday, I’m pretty excited about the opportunity for a little cultural exchange.
I am sensing an urgency from our contacts there to improve Bermudian education. The company that’s sponsoring the STEM camp is Belco – the Bermuda Electric Light Company. What a terrific opportunity for the private sector to get involved. They created an exciting summer enrichment for kids. It’s a deep honor that they selected Preston Middle School as a model for their camp, and we’ve been in touch with the territory’s Minister of Education to exchange ideas about STEM ongoing.
Preston is an exciting place to work. We believe kids should be engaged and inspired, that learning is an active, creative, rigorous, yet messy process. STEM is one path to giving kids the tools to learn by solving problems. The philosophy has really changed the culture at Preston. It’s energizing to be in a building where everyone buys into the idea that students learn by problem-solving together. You walk down the halls and kids are huddled in groups, working on the challenges of transportation in sub-Saharan Africa, or building scale models of compost bins, or blogging about a peer pressure scenario.
Belco has embraced this philosophy and has put together a great little program in which students will be tasked with solving Bermuda’s energy challenges. The remote little island territory definitely has its work cut out for it, and the 12 – to – 15 – year – olds will be owning the challenge for the next generation. The camp will involve Lego NXT Mindstorms challenges, energy activities, and web design.
It’s going to be a great week and I can’t wait to see what I learn from it. I also might get to check off a few items on my Bucket List – snorkeling at a coral reef has been on there forever!