Martha Keeley, a high school engineering teacher at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri, sat down with us to reflect on her experience integrating a water project into her class through our virtual global STEM Squad program.
Keeley teaches an Engineering Fundamentals elective class to seniors at John Burroughs, and found structuring the class to allow her students to work alongside community members and professional engineers in El Limon, Panama to design a community water tank to be an influential and unforgettable opportunity.
Check out our captivating conversation…
Why did you incorporate a virtual STEM Squad into your class?
“I really wanted to give my students real-world project experiences from the problem stage to the prototype stage. I’m trying to expose them to a process for solving complex problems, expose them to the math and science tools they will need to do that, and give them two real-world project experiences.At the very last session, when we gave our presentation to our in-country facilitator, Julio, he asked what the students felt like they got out of the program. Several of them said that of all of the classes they’ve taken, this is the first one where they feel like they made a difference in the real world.”
What did you hope your students would learn from their virtual STEM Squad experience?
“One of the things I wanted to get across to them, whether this class helped decide if engineering is for them or not, is this methodology for solving complex problems that focus first on talking to people and really understanding the problem; putting yourself in people’s shoes to understand the problem well – that’s where you should always start. Real-world problems are complex problems. You have to spend the time to understand the problem before you jump in to try and solve it.”
Leaving Lasting Impact
“We are very happy to see the water reserve tank done. It is a pretty project that will guarantee the water in the school, which is the main necessity. This is a very important project for us. As a director I feel very happy and all parents, children, and community members, as well. So on behalf of all of them, we want to sincerely thank you for all the effort you did for our school.” – El Limon Primary School Director, Mrs. Omayra Tejeira