Video Showcase

Video Showcase

STEMTLnet Video ShowcaseThe STEM Teacher Leadership Video Showcase features 3-minute videos submitted by teacher leaders and those engaged in creating teacher leadership programs. View their inspiring stories and make sure to leave a comment! Share on social media and "like" your favorites!

STEM Learning- A Team Approach

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This video highlights the approach of Watertown City School District's STEAM Team, which includes educators, students, and community members focused on supporting STEM learning opportunities for students.  Thanks to the support of the DoDEA MCASP Grants Program, WCSD has built a culture focused on STEM learning that engages educators as learners alongside students to ensure that students have rich, transdisciplinary learning opportunities to future proof our students with essential skills, knowledge, and habits that support their future success.

Impactful professional learning experiences are active, engaging, collaborative, and connected to standards, community resources and needs, and workforce opportunities.  We have also learned that our educators learn best alongside students in informal learning settings, which allow for skills to be developed and for new approaches and technologies to be tested in a relaxed setting, providing essential time for exploration and reflective thought.

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Kaye Ebelt
Joni Falk
Doug Scott
Liza Bondurant


Full Name

I hope you enjoy the video!

An important point I would like to add is that some of our most impactful professional learning has involved educators working alongside students in our STEM Camp setting.  Working alongside students, observing and interacting with them through learning and exploration has been powerful.  It adds an important dimension to professional learning that cannot be achieved through ordinary professional learning activities.  It's powerful for students to see that their teachers are also learners.  It's a great testament for lifelong learning and it helps educators see that it is beneficial to their students for them to try new things.  They see first hand that it is okay to not always be the expert!

I am thankful for the WCSD STEAM Team!  The educator members of this team, which is always welcoming new members, have great passion for engaging students in impactful STEM learning activities that inspire students and spark curiosity, wonder, and awe!

I wish to also express gratitude to DoDEA, STEM Ecosystems, and DoD STEM for your ongoing support of our programs.  This support has been essential to our success!

Mon, 11/07/2022 - 8:43 AM Permalink
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In reply to by Liza Bondurant

Hi Liza,

We did use an activity sheet, but I don't currently have access to the file.  My colleague created it.  I did find this one:  VP.-Pringles-Ring.pdf ( I will try to get you the file.

I have this image of it:

Image of Pringles Challenge Activity Sheet

The challenge was 30-minute warm-up activity teachers participated in upon returning from a lunch break.  We had teachers look over the science standards for their grade levels to see which standards applied.

K-6 teachers participated in the full-day workshop, which began with making a polymer stress ball (using PVA slime made in a balloon), provided an overview of the district's STEM strategic plan (which also included reflection on the importance of this work) and culminated in developing an integrated STEM lesson.

It was a great day!  It's been fun supporting teachers in the lessons they began developing.  It also led to fun PD for teachers in our 5-6 Intermediate school, which was essential a STEM fair for teachers to see some possibilities for what the y can bring into their lessons.  More fun in learning!  That always makes me happy!

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 10:27 AM Permalink
Full Name

Thanks for this video. I think that creating collaborative teacher learning communities are so important, for not only enriching and empowering teachers but also to model collaborative, connected learning in the classroom. Did you find that one impact of the program was that teachers adopted more collaborative, group projects in the classroom? What were some of the challenges that you met in getting teacher buy in? What strategies seemed to work?

Great video, thanks! -Joni

Tue, 11/08/2022 - 2:12 PM Permalink

Hi Joni,

I definitely see an uptick in student engagement in collaborative learning activities as a result of efforts such as this.  I also see great "hunger" for collaborative learning as we've emerged from the isolated pandemic learning situations we were all thrust into.

I generally do not see challenges with those who participate in the professional learning.  We did have one teacher in that session with the Pringles challenge who was not in the video who tends to be more traditional, so the change is not as rapid as with others, but we keep moving forward with more opportunities to engage teachers to help even those that might be reluctant to move forward.

The biggest challenge I see is in simply getting staff to professional learning.  Sessions such as what you observed in the video are part of a catalog of choices.  In the last couple of years, though teachers are paid to attend PD, the attendance has not been strong.  This concerns me because it also impacts equity in the learning environments our students experience.  Some teachers are well-versed in STEM and others are not.  We keep building toward equity, but it is certainly a hurdle to be overcome!

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 10:32 AM Permalink
Full Name

Thanks for sharing this video showing the collaboration - the Chip challenge was one that my elementary colleague brought to a district wide team meeting with STEM and non-STEM teachers alike.

I am wondering about the community members - how do you usually recruit the members?

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 9:38 PM Permalink
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In reply to by John Seelke

Hi John,

We are fortunate to be part of a STEM Learning Ecosystem.  This brings together K-12, higher education, business, industry, and workforce agencies.  Through this network, we have many great partners who engage in support of STEM through the lens of workforce needs.  We also work closely with our Military School Liaison, DoDEA, and DoD STEM, identifying helpful connections within military-connected networks.

Community partners are important to our work on many levels.


Fri, 11/11/2022 - 8:25 AM Permalink
Full Name

Really enjoy the team aspect and interactions.  It provides a group of teachers time to connect and generate thought that leads to more engaging experiences for students.  Keep it up!

Thu, 11/10/2022 - 8:44 AM Permalink
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In reply to by Doug Scott

Thank you! 

The team aspect of our working relationships is essential to keeping us moving forward.  This was especially evident during the pandemic.  Our teachers continued to build STEM activities and engagement opportunities in spite of the challenges we faced for the good of our students and families.

Fri, 11/11/2022 - 8:28 AM Permalink
Full Name

Hi Lisa,

This Pringles activity is going in my toolkit - thank you!

... and thanks, too, for positioning your vision of teacher learning (in the video and in your first comment) as being FOR and WITH students. That's the actual most important thing I learned from my story: that students make excellent thinking partners for their teachers!

:) Kirstin

Thu, 11/10/2022 - 3:51 PM Permalink
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Thank you for your comments, Kirsten,

I think this idea is an uncomfortable one for many educators- particularly those who are fixed on needing to be the expert.  

While we may be expert in some things, none of us can be expert in all things.  Opportunities to learn alongside students, in my experience, creates an environment that increases willingness of both students and teachers to engage in real inquiry, taking risks in learning.  It's been powerful!

Fri, 11/11/2022 - 8:35 AM Permalink
Full Name

What a great video that focuses on teachers learning and getting engaged.  This was wonderful to see.  How did you create the time to provide that type of learning experience for the staff?  Do you find that as they engage in the "doing" first that they are more comfortable and likely to teach STEM topics in their classrooms?

It was really wonderful to see the staff learning and playing, as I maintain that is one of the best ways to encourage participation.

Thank you for sharing this!

Tue, 11/15/2022 - 10:34 AM Permalink
Full Name

Thank you for your response, Doug.

The video includes summer professional learning.  This works well because it is a relatively low pressure time for educators.  They can dive in and enjoy the learning!  We also invite teachers to participate in our summer STEM camp alongside students.  This too is powerful in that the teachers learn alongside students.  We provide time prior to this experience for setting the stage with important background information, then allow time at the end of the camp experience for reflection, feedback, and planning.

We find that these experiences are transformative in that the teachers seem to be more comfortable and therefore more willing to engage their students in STEM activities.

Wed, 11/16/2022 - 8:35 AM Permalink
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