The hands-on problem-based learning my students received caused them to think about who they are as students and citizens of the world.

Problem-based learning helped boost my underserved students’ engagement

The hands-on education my students received caused them to think about who they are as students and citizens of the world

Our class was named a National Winner in the Samsung contest, earning $130,000 in technology for our school. News of our win made it all the way to Michigan Representative Abraham Aiyash and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, followed by accolades including a Spirit of Detroit Award for outstanding achievement or service to the citizens of Detroit and a 2021 Congressional App Challenge honor, the most prestigious national recognition for students in computer science.

Due to this exposure, our school received additional funding from Ferris State University, allowing us to use our winnings to build an outdoor classroom, purchase VR headsets and 3D printers, and build a state-of-the-art STEM lab. Providing students in this lower-income community with access to this technology and innovation is critical as it increases student engagement, improves collaboration, and helps foster personalized learning.

Following our success with Solve for Tomorrow, we are remodeling the structure of our school to reflect the pillars of STEAM – we are building a specific wing where we will host science, technology, engineering, art, and math classes, and have added new electives to align with the different tracks to ensure students’ high school education prepares them for their future college and career plans. As a part of this, I now oversee an environmental STEM class focused on designing projects that benefit the community.

It is not necessary to teach a STEM subject or have a science or technology background to implement problem-based learning in the classroom. This hands-on education not only caused my class to think about who they are as students and citizens of the world, but also forced me to reevaluate myself and who I am as an educator. The kids got to witness firsthand their power to make change in the world, which is an intangible confidence source for students who truly need it.

Whether you teach science, art, band, or physical education like me, I highly recommend applying to the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which opened September 21.

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