I’d like to continue the Discovery Lab Administrator roll call with our gallup regional educators, who they are, where they work and how they are uniquely positioned to help us in our efforts. Explora as an institution is dedicated to being an active participant in STEM education not only in Albuquerque, but all across the state of NM. To this end we employ several educators in the Gallup area which I have circled on the map provided. These educators primarily work with the Gallup School District but also work with Explora do develop and facilitate STEM programming for the area, including after school science clubs and family science nights in the Shiprock and Crownpoint agencies of the Navajo Nation (both colored yellow on this map). So far I am working with three of these individuals to pilot the utility of equipping our Gallup Educators with these digital tools.
Discovery Lab Size, Administrators, Locations and Rollout
For our three test pilots I arranged a lab of five chromebooks paired with five makey makey devices. Two of these Makey Makey + Chromebook kits have gone to Becca Hibbler, 3rd grade teacher at Rehoboth Elementary School. Becca plans to use her devices as an in-classroom station for free exploration and as a centerpoint for at least one (if not more and repeating) after-school science activity. Two have gone to Claire Seibert, 4th grade teacher at Katherine A Miller Elementary. Claire plans to use her kits to loan to a fellow music teacher for a digital music exploration, to bring her kits to a local youth group to facilitate fun digital learning activities, and to a local autism support group for the same purpose. The one remaining kit goes to Kathryn Thompson, a retired elementary educator who lives in the Gallup area and is still highly plugged in. She’s looking forward to spending her free time exploring the possibilities of these kits and lending them out to younger educators in the area who have inspired her to continue to teach and to learn even after retirement.
What Makes this Lab Unique?
This lab is unique from the other two because it plugs directly into elementary education in rural New Mexico. Instead of working with supporting institutions like libraries and girl scout troops this lab becomes a tool to be used specifically and directly by educators. Though all of our labs have strong ties to the community, this lab ties to the community in a way that specifically allows educators to pinpoint families and students who need the extra support of digital technology, or who are excited about STEM learning and would make use of a computer in the home.
Continued Presence and Troubleshooting
Unlike our other labs these are administered by personnel employed through Explora Science Center. This makes communication much easier as they have Explora email accounts and can be plugged into activities by many different members of our staff and in many different capacities. Having staff who regularly do outreach (the same as I had done throughout the middle point of this project) and who are trained to use these digital tools we developed through test outreaches, help us ensure that the work we have done and the relationships we have made will not simply stop once this pilot has run its course. Troubleshooting as well is easier, as we have a more continuous relationship with these educators, and I am able to send them materials by way of other Explora Ed trips that go to or through Gallup. Because of this more constant contact we have not scheduled any lab check ups as of yet, but I would like to set at least one final project, perhaps a digitally themed Family Science Night to close out the experiment.
Thanks again for reading! I will be back soon to talk about the importance and substance of our lab Administrator trainings.