Kara Lind, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been selected as a Trinect Fellow for the 2017-2018 academic year. This fellowship is funded by the National Science Foundation and provides support to graduate students within the College of Engineering.
As a fellow, Lind will work in elementary schools one day per week alongside elementary teachers and Iowa State University student teachers to educate youth in science and mathematics. Lind will work in the Des Moines school district and will act as the “resident engineer” while collaboratively planning and developing STEM-related activities in the classroom.
This is Lind’s second year as a Trinect Fellow. She has previously worked at Morris Elementary and Andrew Jackson Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa.
Lind described her motivation for applying for the fellowship. “Being a native to Iowa, I liked the idea of being a part of the school system in my home state and giving back to the people and children at the school. I thought it would be both rewarding for me personally and professionally. I also liked the idea of working with kids whom may have never met a scientist or an engineer and exposing them to that,” she said.
Each week, Lind and her two collaborators work to create rich science and engineering experiences in the classrooms. They do this by modifying lessons that teachers have access to and putting more explorations and investigations into the plans. The collaborative team includes the resident engineer, elementary teacher, and student teacher. Together they facilitate science in the classroom the way scientists do things in the lab, specifically by giving students something they have to explore. The team also incorporates concepts such as the engineering design process and problem-solving.
Lind said, “Because of the Trinect Program, kids are really being exposed to better science content. It is not just about memorizing facts but rather exploring and developing reasoning. Kids also are seeing that engineering has a defined problem and they can then use the engineering design process to solve it with constraints.”
“I love working with the kids. I have seen kids who did not like science, really start to enjoy it. I have also seen kids get pushed to solve problems, and they actually love it. The fellowship has been such a great opportunity for me to learn how to communicate the things I have learned to a range of audiences that include teachers, educators, and kids,” said Lind.
About the Trinect Project and Fellowship
The Trinect project addresses the critical need for well-prepared elementary teachers to have confidence in and a commitment to engaging their students in the experiential learning of essential scientific and engineering concepts in the early grades.
The Trinect project is a partnership between Des Moines Public Schools, the largest school district in the State of Iowa, and Iowa State University, with the School of Education, the College of Engineering and the Engineering and Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) working in collaboration.
Information from: https://www.trinect.iastate.edu/about-the-program/