7 Takeaways From One School’s Experiences With Distance Learning | Edutopia
As an educator, one of my favorite online forums is Edutopia (edutopia.org). While I enjoy multiple professional online journals, this one tends to really put out the good stuff for the aspiring teaching professional and parent "in the know of all things education."
As a science educator, I span the views and social reactions to help gauge our country's job of educating the masses. Each day is a mixed bag of individuals thinking their way through the day to stay healthy through this disease, and then those who interact with health science as an inscription on a magic genie bottle. The former considers being upwind versus downwind to other people. They understand "6 feet" is not a magical number, but a relative term. It may actually mean less distance between well masked and disinfected people, and a football field from the unmasked family, with the feverish kid,.. who just entered the restaurant!
(BTW, genie bottle or not, I will strongly encourage 6 feet is a good minimum for all.)
So,.. looking to the fall. What has been the best of our reactions to COVID? We need to consider these best practices of the past few months. Personally, I hope those are the policies and procedures we will likely see in the states in the immediate future. And, I hope they are traded for better policy as we continue to learn more.
Looking to Mary Davenports synopsis, #1 and #2 on her list, are not the "6 foot separation" or "wear masks" we have become accustomed to in our new normal. What are they??
Teamwork between schools and agencies (with solidarity) and communication. Awesome! In my opinion, teamwork and communication are in the top two list of our best science teachers’ top three list.* Now, do we need the separation and masks, of course, but without working together and disseminating the ever-morphing battle plan effectively, they may not matter much to really overcome this disease.
One change I would suggest? Move #7 to #3. How about to the #1 spot? People. People have to be #1. And, not ourselves first, but others. It’s a higher motivation tier. Also, it’s important to keep the people in front of the disease, in front of the machine we're building to battle this thing. Not the other way around, or we risk losing focus and drive. People have to come first. It is the why.
* (For years, I thought the best thing about teaching physics was the awesome content. Now, don't get me wrong, the physics content is awesome, but it loses its value without individuals working together to solve problems, and finding effective (and cool) ways to get the word out. These last two make the science fun and rewarding with new opportunities to really explore physics. Then, when you realize the significance of the many individuals you are working with, and put them at the top of your equation, teaching takes on a new dimension.)
After this crazy Spring, all schools are now preparing for the fall, with everyone working to figure out what plan could survive the uncertainty. And similarly, every online educational journal is taking a stab at what the fall will look like, and offering its own two bits.
It may be helpful to think, as we are already into summer, "without the disease how would we have acted differently over the last few months in a previous year?" Through this period of pandemic, we have seen individuals who have taken new modes of operation and demonstrated the best of the human spirit. The amazing people "on the front lines." If we each have not said a prayer recently for these individuals, then we should. What are they doing today that is different, or better, from what they were doing back in March? I would suggest: improved focus on 1, 2, and 3.
And, we should also consider those "in the trenches behind the dotted white line." These are the ones behind the counters of businesses, whose owners are hoping to stay open enough to survive this disease. Considering recent events, are the owners now thinking, "how will I survive if my business is the epicenter of a couple dozen new cases?" Last weekend, across the state border, I entered an eating establishment, gauging the workers were well protected, also wearing my mask, and keeping the social distance having read the signs on the door. On the door was a sign which clearly stated to customers "No entry without masks," and another detailed designated areas for the customers. Yet, over my short stay, I watched a majority of individuals arrive without masks, and sit where they wanted. Hmm. (1) I don’t think they were putting the worker’s health in consideration, (2) they definitely missed the solidarity effort, and (3) their 2nd grade teacher would have been disappointed at their lack of ability to read a message posted on the front door.
As Americans, we can be pretty fickle. As the public deals with cabin fever, it will be important to support our schools and educators. And hope we all keep thinking as we get through this page in history.
To the friends we serve in our community,
The COVID-19 spread is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. At the ETHOS Innovation Center, we know this is a very difficult time for each of you. This event in history has caused many disruptions, affects not only students, but also families and friends everywhere. We have been watching the events of the last month, and considered the current and potential future impact.
We hope each of you, your friends and families are able to stay healthy and positive as we pass through this difficult time. Our staff is working remotely, and we appreciate your patience and apologize for any delays in our response time during this period.
We are also taking necessary steps to best support our loyal patrons. To that end, we have decided to close our doors until at least April 13th. We look forward to when we reopen and again work to meet the STEM needs of the youth in our region. Due to the closure and uncertain time due to this disease, we are also making changes in program cancellation policy.
Any programs cancelled after March 15th, due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be fully refunded, regardless of cancellation date. Please contact Shari at Shari[@]ethosinc.org for cancellation or refund questions.
ETHOS is still looking forward to an exciting summer with a full line up of summer camps. For those with cabin fever and inquisitive youth, there are many opportunities for students of all ages to experience great learning experiences in hands-on STEAM. You can check out our summer camps at: CLICK HERE
A similar cancellation policy will be in place for the summer camps as stated above. If we need to cancel camps this summer because of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you will receive a full refund. Contact us for more information regarding financial need.
The ETHOS Innovation Center, as a nonprofit, will be weathering this difficult time. We are as determined as ever and move through this for the sake of our children, and our passion for their STEAM futures. We will continue to monitor the situation and work to communicate the most recent information regarding the ETHOS Innovation Center.
Our wishes are for the health and wellness of each of you. Please, do not hesitate with any questions. Thank you all for your ongoing support as we work together to make the world better for our students.
John B. Taylor
CEO, ETHOS Innovation Center
We at ETHOS Innovation Center feel deep compassion for those impacted by COVID-19. And we are encouraged by the many scientists and health field professionals who are working to help us overcome this current challenge.
As an organization devoted to the youth of our community, we continue to be focused on the health and safety of students of all ages. As such, we will monitor and support the efforts of our local health and educational organizations.
As part of proactive measures, we will be canceling certain activities. Our Science Academies, school field trips, and Open Museum dates will be suspended through the end of March. Also, the Spring Break camp series will be cancelled and our efforts focused on the Summer Camp series. For specific program details after the beginning of April, please visit our website calendar.
As we are heartbroken for our robotics students, who have qualified for the cancelled State and International FIRST competition, we applaud their efforts and hours of work to achieve their accomplishments. You are all awesome! We will continue to support your aspirations in the future.
At ETHOS, we work to help provide children with opportunities to connect science to everyday life through problem-solving, discovery and critical thinking. Our focus is always on the well-being of the public we serve, and will continue to be our first priority.
John B. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
ELKHART — A local robotics team that is part of the ETHOS Innovation Center and Granger Exploration and Robotics Studio has punched its ticket to compete in an international tournament this spring.
In December, seven local ETHOS teams competed in Indiana’s FIRST LEGO League State Championship in Fort Wayne. One of those teams, 31195 Heroes, placed second out of 48 teams made...
WRITTEN BY: Marshall V. King
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Marshall V. King
PUBLISHED BY: South Bend Tribune
ELKHART — The new ETHOS Science Center has holograms, robotics labs and augmented reality stations in a science museum.
In May, nearly every school day will mean field trips of local students coming to use the facility to learn more about science and its role in their lives and future employment.
In a few of the corners, students can learn about how science and Elkhart history are intertwined. How a woman named Helen Free was a leading scientist nationally. How Alka-Seltzer helped people with headaches and upset stomachs.
Many of the students coming to the ETHOS Science Center, at 1025 N. Michigan Street, may not already know what Alka-Seltzer is, much less the story of how it was invented in Elkhart.
They may not know that Miles Laboratories and other businesses in town produced aspirin and vitamins and provided jobs to generations of employees.
Miles eventually became part of Bayer Corp. The campus on the northeast side of Elkhart was home to both for decades before Bayer left Elkhart entirely in the last several years.
Now, ETHOS, which was formed in 2001, is ready to open its newly revamped science center in a building that once housed Bayer and was donated to ETHOS by the company.
But $8.2 million was needed to renovate 65,000 square feet and add another 35,000 square feet of warehouse space, according to Patsy Boehler, ETHOS executive director.
The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Development Authority approved a $532,000 grant. The Elkhart City Council unanimously approved matching it. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County offered a $1 million matching grant, plus some other funds. (For full disclosure, I’ve done work for both, but didn’t write this column on their behalf.) So far, $7 million has been raised.
The construction is nearly complete on what will be called the ETHOS Innovation Center powered by Thor Industries. The recreational vehicle manufacturer purchased naming rights for the building.
Inside, Boehler and others, including former Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Mark Mow, have been cleaning and preparing for this past weekend’s opening.
Donors and dignitaries got a look Thursday. Open houses Friday night and Saturday attracted others to a remarkable place where futures can take root.
Since leaving Bayer in 1995, Boehler has led the charge to continue science education. Without her, the conversation of how Elkhart city and county schools should tackle Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math education, better known by the STEAM acronym, would look very different.
Boehler has been an advocate, a resource, and a leader on ensuring that science education didn’t end even though science companies left Elkhart and Indiana cut funding for schools.
When Gov. Eric Holcomb visited Elkhart in November to tout his legislative agenda, he was set to spend just 15 minutes in the robotics lab at ETHOS, where the press conference took place. He was there around one and a half hours, Boehler said.
Their conversation about the lack of funding for science education surprised him and an increase in the funding formula happened a short time later, she said, noting that she isn’t sure there was a direct connection.
Holcomb is touting how the science center is the kind of thing that Indiana needs to move forward. In an era of shrinking school budgets, a massive, well-designed center that is the result of a public-private partnership is now available to help local students learn skills they’ll need for the modern workforce.
Robotics labs are busy every evening, said Boehler. In addition, students can learn CAD or coding in one room and record YouTube videos across the hall. A hands-on museum includes an inflatable planetarium that can hold up to 30 people, as well as other exhibits.
The building isn’t limited to public school students or the Elkhart school board that may meet there regularly. Homeschoolers and people with disabilities are regularly using the facilities. Perhaps even more exciting is that Lippert Components has its robotics employees in the building and other Elkhart manufacturers are not only making donations, but also exploring possible partnerships.
Boehler hopes students can explore how to meld Elkhart’s entrepreneurial spirit with science to create new companies instead of only talking about Bayer or Whitehall Laboratories.
“Our kids here are just as smart and have just as much potential as anywhere in the world,” she said.
Now they also have a new science center in which to harness both.