March marked the official end of my TED-Ed Innovative Educator experience. With TEd-Ed, not only have I received some of the best professional development in my entire career, I gained new family members from across the globe in my cohort. Being part of #TIEfighters has validated every part of me that has doubted my career change from engineer to educator and has challenged me to want to do more and grow more beyond TED-Ed. Best of all, my TED-Ed lessons allow me to teach around the globe without a classroom or a plane ticket. As I reflect on my Innovation Project, I feel like it is just beginning. I look forward to presenting at TED-Ed weekend and spreading new ideas this summer.
Project Desciption in 100 Words:
As a rookie teacher, combining affordability with execution of new lessons was a challenge. Finding lessons that “seemed” straightforward was no problem, but many needed to be tested out first. As teachers know best, 1st hour with a new activity is always rough, but by 4th hour, you’re a pro!
For my TED-Ed innovation project, I created DollarStoreSTEM.com: a resource for easy-to-plan and engaging STEM lessons that are...
- affordable (less than 30 cents per student!)
- accessible (kid- and teacher-tested)
- aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (Science and Engineering Practices) and
- accompanied by TED-Ed videos (to help with implementation).
At its core, my project stayed the same. It started out small and was easily summed up by its title crafted by the brilliant Laura McClure: “10 classroom STEM gems for less than 30 cents per student.” One initial goal for implementation was collecting 100 STEM lessons in 100 days from educators through social media and conferences. If crowd accelerated properly, the project would grow on its own without me as the only contributor. I used my project funding to create kits to send to educators in return for submitting lessons. Unfortunately, this wasn’t able to generate as many lessons as I originally hoped, but I’m glad I have materials to continue promoting my project.
However, what I was able to accomplish was presenting “TED-Ed Ideas Worth Sharing in Your Classroom” around the country while sharing the DollarStoreSTEM.com resource concurrently. Here are some quick facts about my project:
- The lessons grew from 10 STEM gems to 20+ including Techbridge Girls, Inc. lessons and #CSEDWeek activities.
- I reached over 300+ educators by travelling to 8 conferences in 6 states and Puerto Rico!
- AliciaCLane.com and DollarStoreSTEM.com traffic indicates I’ve reached over 1,200 unique visitors in the last year!
Tips for Educators Who Want to Replicate the Project:
If you want to replicate the project, let’s replicate it together! Let’s create a plan together, and crush it! The best way DollarStoreSTEM can grow is replication, and in turn, TED-Ed replicates too. DollarStoreSTEM was designed to be a community that crowdsourced its lessons like TED-Ed. My dream for DollarStoreSTEM is to be go-to place for anyone who wants to “get their science on” affordably, while sharing lessons, activities and other great ideas to grow the resource and to grow the community. This is all based on the idea that STEM can be fun and affordable and can be found in things around your home. That being said, DON’T go it alone!
- DO take copious photos and videos. DON’T be like me, scrambling to show some from 3+ months ago.
- DO use or retro-fit what you already have (lessons, supplies, etc.) and what is already published on ed.ted.com. Many of my lessons are “borrowed,” and re-packaged it to make planning and execution easier. This saves time AND money.
- DON’T let suggested grade levels be a barrier. DO what teachers do best, and translate it to meet the needs and grade levels of your students.
- DO email DollarStoreSTEM@gmail.com for help!
This post is dedicated to my new forever family, TED-Ed, the best educators around the globe.