Fostering Innovation in the Classroom

Marian Wright Edelman started the Children's Defense Fund because she is an American activist for children’s rights. She has campaigned for disadvantaged children, particularly those of color, because they have been left out of high-quality education experiences. She is famous with many inspirational quotes but the one I use the most of “You can’t be what you can’t see.” I believe it is our moral obligation as educators, to show our students that people who live where they live, look like them, can master STEM skills, get a good job and make the world a better place.

One of the most amazing young people I have met in the last 20 years is Gitanjali Rao. She is a 15-year old from Colorado who won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge as a 12 year old, with her invention to help the children of Flint monitor their water. From winning that award she has done TED talks, created several more inventions and has a monthly Twitter chat. Her goal is to help other young people become innovators like her. Time magazine named her the 1st ever American Kid of the Year in 2020. The articles in Time includes information about Gitanjali, as well as stories of other kids honored for their outstanding work to make the world a better place now.

Gitanjali has written a book, A Young Innovators Guide to STEM,  that will be available March 16th and I highly recommend it. Her book is an attempt to provide a roadmap for other young people looking to become innovators. It is also helpful for parents and teachers attempting to facilitate young people with ideas that can make the world a better place. Gitanjali let me read her pre-publication version and I was privileged to write an introduction for the book.

If you are using Defined Learning’s PBLs make sure to highlight the resources provided around innovation and invention. These are created at different grade levels because even our primary students need to be encouraged to invent. As adults, working with students, we need to change the way we approach them. Instead of asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” it is time to ask “What kind of problems would you like to solve?”

About the author:
Dr. Cindy Moss is a nationally respected thought leader in STEM education and reform. Dr. Moss brings over 31 years experience in district leadership, classroom instruction and inquiry based learning to her work as a champion for STEM engagement and career & workforce readiness. Learn more about Dr. Moss here and follow her on Twitter at @STEMboss


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