Guest Blog: Classroom Lessons related to NNYB Educational Outreach enhance Understanding

Andy O’Rourke with 400 students at Ossining school/NYSTA

By Micki Lockwood

The educational outreach piece is our three-year-long relationship between Public Outreach Coordinator Andy O’Rourke and the Ossining School District. The importance of this work is looking at curriculum through a new lens, for example, you are going to study New York in 4th Grade in Social Studies, Simple Machines in Science and Geometry in math, hmmm… then why not study one of the most important projects happening in our backyard?

This becomes not only understanding the bridge that being built; it brings us back to the history of bridges and architecture — and leads us back to literacy and reading fiction and non-fiction books on engineers, architects, which in turn brings in our science, math, ELA.

We then, of course, want hands-on experiences, and these lend themselves to STEAM, where you can do low-tech to high-tech activities and use technology. You then can use Virtual Reality to travel the world and see architecture and building and even see people within their careers.

This leads us back to The New NY Bridge. We can have meaningful conversations about the falcons and the sturgeon, and the importance of the bridge and the balance in nature. Last year a student here at Claremont School selected one of the winning names — Puente (bridge in Spanish) — for one of the falcon’s new babies. The inquiry and hands-on pieces are what bring about engagement.

I use the New NY Bridge group for my research, but my favorite part is that they are the culmination of all the research we have done here in our STEM Lab at Claremont School. As an educator, I am always revisiting and crafting my lessons to integrate as many subjects into what I am teaching. There are only so many minutes in the day, so the idea is how can I get the most in and have a meaningful impact.

The final outcome from this work is that you can be any of these occupations if you choose. If we didn’t study the bridge, then we wouldn’t know about these careers.

Claremont Elementary School teacher Micki Lockwood shares her enthusiasm for learning with her third- and fourth-grade students. Lockwood’s classes used K’NEX and LEGO® bricks to study and build bridges with a special emphasis on the new bridge.

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