Blogs

Blogs

Finding a passion

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Pitsco Education Consultant Angela Radell had plans to be a school psychologist. “I came to Pitsco to build my résumé in education as I was working on my master’s in School Psychology,” she said.

Luckily for Pitsco, those plans changed when she began working in the Sales Department. “I was able to see and listen to all the differences that my little part in sales was helping to accomplish with students all over the US,” she recalled. “From there I realized I would never be able to affect as many students’ lives being a school psychologist as I could by being in sales at Pitsco.”
Radell started out serving specific states such as Washington, Wyoming, Oregon, Tennessee, and Kentucky and now works on strengthening partnerships in other states. She said hearing about and sharing a passion for student success with the teachers she encounters is one of the main reasons she loves her job.

“Hearing from the educators how our curriculum helps enable students to reach their full potential . . . when I get to help them accomplish that goal, it feels really good.”

Stories such as the one from a teacher in New Mexico who said he continues to teach to “get just one student each year to want to pursue a career and to get off [the] reservation” are what keep her going. “I love hearing about teachers’ and administrators’ passion for why they do what they do,” said Radell. “I feel like I had a part in that.”

A STEMthusiast focused on math

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For the remainder of 2015, Pitsco Education will be running a series of blogs showcasing the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG). Four questions will be addressed for each TAG member in the blog series.

Lilly Jensby is a STEMthusiast who currently serves as a math instructional coach for a Title I elementary campus in Plano, Texas. She has worked with students in all grade levels, kindergarten through fifth, as well as with teachers as the campus New Teacher Mentor and the chair of the Technology Professional Learning Community (PLC). Her passion lies in the conviction that fostering creativity, critical thinking, and innovative practices helps prepare students for success.
To this end, Lilly has cofounded Gadget Girls, an engineering initiative raising interest in STEM disciplines particularly for girls in Grades 3-5. She has also transformed her room into a math learning lab – a space filled with math-focused STEM activities.

She is actively involved on her campus by contributing to the new Learning Commons, an after-school coding class, and technology workshops. One of her favorite endeavors has been developing and teaching STEMtastic Challenges, a district summer school course. In 2014, she was honored to present at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), and she was one of 50 educators selected nationally to attend NASA’s LiftOff Summer Institute.

Lilly was asked questions to address math as part of STEM in the classroom, and she shares her great advice below.

What is something unique about your classroom?

This year I transformed my room into a Math Learning Lab (or “ML2” as my students dubbed it). Kindergartners through fifth graders are invited to visit with a teacher in small groups or as a whole class. A variety of activities and challenges are set up for the students to explore and investigate. All have a math focus and generally go through a design cycle. One of my favorite activities is a package design challenge using Pitsco boxmakers. Students explore various sample packages, view videos of packaging engineers, create a package from a template, and design a package that meets a minimum criterion or works within specific constraints (such as efficiently holding a given product). Since I’m not a classroom teacher, I’m able to bring in groups and guide students through the learning phases. I've really enjoyed using the room in this way.

Provide a best tip for classroom management.

Establishing a classroom community through relationships is key to managing a classroom. Students who feel significant and part of a greater good are more likely to be contributors rather than distracters. When setting classroom expectations, we discuss things that help our class and things that hurt our class, and we use this as a benchmark for what happens in class. Sharing ideas, taking risks, and asking questions all help our class; however, calling out or interrupting steals other students’ opportunities for thinking or brain growth, and this hurts our class.

What is your best piece of advice for a new teacher?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and actively build a community of support. It reflects a willingness to learn from others and an openness to take risks. We’ve all been there, as a first-year teacher, and benefited from the help/advice of others. We would love a chance to pay it forward!

What do you hope to gain from being a member of TAG?

I am excited to learn from such an impressive group of educators and hope I can be a positive contributor to the conversation. I am especially looking forward to getting perspectives from different parts of the country and from both secondary and elementary levels.

 

Five popular products to begin the school year

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Whether you go the regular summer break route or have your own break schedule for your homeschoolers, it’s always nice to have a list of popular products to use in the pursuit of knowledge. To help you along, here’s a list of five popular Pitsco products.

  1. 5PopularProducts2_0815The SunEzoon Solar Car is a great choice to teach students about solar energy. It’s an easy-to-build kit that works outdoors in full sunlight or indoors under a bright incandescent light. It’s perfect for going outside and learning.

  2. The Basic Mousetrap Vehicle demonstrates the surprising amount of force used in a mousetrap while being a total start-to-finish design activity. Students follow the design process and see direct applications of science and technology in order to design a fast car or a car that goes far.

  3. The T-Bot® II is a hydraulic-powered robot used to introduce students to 5PopularProducts4_0815basic hydraulic power and mechanics. It comes with a built-in activity involving stacking Ping-Pong balls and can be adapted to many other ideas in the areas of math, science, and engineering.

  4. The Pitsco Catapult is a medieval siege machine used to teach concepts like force and motion, vectors, trajectory, potential and kinetic energy, simple machines, and medieval history. It is also just huge amounts of fun to build a siege machine and learn about flinging objects.

  5. 5PopularProducts1_0815The BFF Balsa Foam Flyer is a simple foam glider combined with the power of a rubber motor-powered model airplane. Students can select one of four wing patterns to build the design or test the different wing designs to see which flies the best. It’s a quick build that allows students to learn some early concepts of aeronautics.


Each of these five products is a great way to teach STEM concepts and make sure students have fun while they learn. They don’t require a long build time and can teach multiple lessons. To learn more about these and other Pitsco products, visit www.pitsco.com.

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