Susan Quave, Johnson County Middle School, Mountain City, TN

Susan Quave, Middle School Science Teacher, Johnson County Middle School, Mountain City, TN

As a veteran teacher, I realize how important it is to engage students in real world experiences.   However, I truly witnessed this concept at the beginning of this school year when I received a grant from the ETSU Northeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub to purchase an Apple TV and an HDMI Flat screen TV.  It makes perfect sense to present information to students via the technology that most students are using on a daily basis.  With the influx of Iphone’s, Ipad’s, ITunes, IMovies, Twitter, Texts, Facebook, YouTube, and the like; what better way is there for teachers to stay connected to students? Most importantly, what better way is there to develop and enhance the students’ interest in STEM, thus preparing them to enter college and the STEM workforce?   

The first day following the installation of the Apple TV system in my room was as exciting to my students as it was to me.  They were mesmerized by the images, the technology, the Apple TV screen saver, the YouTube videos, digital whiteboard apps, sounds, and the ability to quickly change from Science 360, to TED Talks, to PBS,  to Northeast State, to Walters State, to NASA, to Mars, or any other app quickly and  efficiently.  They were engaged and interested in seeing the National Geographic Parks or the ability to go on Virtual Field Trips anywhere in the world quickly and digitally. 

Students can’t wait to get to my classroom and watch a forty second video on the evacuated tube transportation system, or the newest hybrid technology, or the most improved robot of the future,   all of which become great classroom starters and brain accelerators.   I can honestly see their interest peaking in the STEM areas of engineering, medical breakthroughs, clean energy, electronics, digital media, and many other areas of interest. These experiences are creating an environment in which many great ideas are generated for project-based learning activities.

And speaking of apps, I have discovered there are many that offer experiences that are not possible through other printed materials such as textbooks or web sites.  I am also experimenting with preparing innovative and engaging lesson plans from selective apps as well as “spicing up” existing lessons plans.  I have been truly impressed with how Apple TV can serve to level the playing field for students and engage them in learning skills so necessary for college and career.

Technology like the Apple TV can keep teachers connected with students or even facilitate the connection.   Technology is their world.  STEM is their future.  I can feel the creativity and the inventions brewing in my classroom, and I can’t wait for it to unfold.  It’s all about the connections!

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