Customer Highlight: Noelle Bradshaw
Creating a successful STEM program.
Noelle Bradshaw, a 4th-grade educator using NeuroMaker has been teaching for 23 years, and still loves the ever-changing landscape of education while building the camaraderie within a classroom.
NeuroMaker in Summer Camp
Along with running STEM classes during a school year, Noelle also teaches innovative science activities at her district’s summer camp. Bradshaw chose NeuroMaker for STEMcamp because building a prosthetic hand controlled by the mind “was brand new and different.” She didn’t want to “recreate the wheel” by building a new program and wanted it to be fun, engaging and unlike anything that they had done before.
Mission accomplished; these lofty goals were met and now she would like to go deeper into the curriculum, so she will be using it with her 4th graders this upcoming school year.
“The best part of being a teacher is that education is constantly changing; there is always something new to learn or do,” says Bradshaw. “The kids are why we do what we do and you can never get bored with what you do. We are always trying something new and keeping them engaged.”
Expanding NeuroMaker to an After-school program
Bradshaw’s current plan with NeuroMaker is to do an after school program with the hand and work through it on a deeper level via the curriculum. The after-school program will be for kids who voluntarily sign up, so it will be for motivated students who want something new.
“It’s going to be challenging for the 4th graders, but this is how I want to use it this year. Next summer, we will be offering it again as a summer program.”
Flexibility, camaraderie and problem-solving: The key to engaging students
The flexibility of the NeuroMaker product helped build camaraderie within her STEMcamp and she looks forward to seeing this in her upcoming classroom. “Some kids loved the hands-on building of the hand, other kids loved the programming, and other kids were into the biomedical piece. It depended on the student. That is what made it engaging for everybody, because there was something for everyone. We enjoyed letting the kids explore the piece that they wanted to spend the most time with. It allowed the kids choice. They owned their choice, and this created the engagement.”
Bradshaw and her students were surprised at how much they actually learned with NeuroMaker. Because they already knew how to code, this learning experience is where the magic happened: “The problem solving was a game changer. They have not really had that before. They owned the problem, and they had to figure it out, and work with each other to solve it.”
For everyone involved, the struggle was “worth it” because they learned a life skill to help them in a world that has ready answers at our fingertips.
Bradshaw and her co-teacher were working simultaneously in the hand-building process, which helped students become the leaders of how to figure this out. “We had to help each other out,” Bradshaw states. “The whole thing came together organically. Lots of ah-ha moments. The feeling when we got it to work was unbelievable. That was so rewarding.”
For this upcoming year, Bradshaw wants her students to go beyond “the building and coding and to take them through the entire curriculum—such as the biomedical and engineering modules, and see where medicine is going.” She envisions this route to be a spark for kids, and give her students exposure to careers that are possibly unknown or unconsidered. “I liked the additional pieces outside of the building and coding as well. I can’t wait to incorporate those other things this year.”
Taking advantage of the natural SEL component in NeuroMaker and adding a “why”
Says Bradshaw, “To get students to think about assistive technology, and the challenges, we started the first day with an activity where they figure out to write their name without using their hand, and could only use their fist, and then we showed them some videos overcoming difficulties, i.e. a blind student, those kinds of things made this purposeful. This introduction made students want to connect to the curriculum and gave them a “why” to engage.”
Advice for a new teacher implementing new content such as NeuroMaker into a STEM program?
Bradshaw praises the process of the educator learning along with the students. “Make it a risk-free zone. In NeuroMaker, I was not the expert here, and that was an asset. We grew together. That was one of the most fun parts of it. The kids were bonded together. You had to lean on each other. They really had to lean on each other and work together, and idea-generate/brainstorm together. That type of more organic learning was really valuable.”