“Meeting with the students [virtually] discussing the challenges I had prepared was so inspiring because I saw interest in science sparked during our conversations, ”says Erick Eguia, a young brain and cognitive science student. Eguia had the unique experience of participating in a long-standing MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program in a new way – via Google Classroom to a group of enthusiastic students in Spain.
Usually during the period of Independent Activities (IAP), MIT-Spain’s Global Teaching Labs (GTL) program sends over 40 students to high schools across Spain and Andorra to share MIT’s hands-on approach to the subject. STEM education. MIT students, in turn, are able to experience the diversity of Spanish culture and practice their teaching, presentation, language and problem-solving skills.
This year, the program has been reinvented and adapted thanks to Covid-19. MIT-Spain has been collaborating with Fundació Tr @ ms, a non-profit foundation whose mission is to bring knowledge about innovation and technology to classrooms and to enrich Spanish educational communities, since 2017 . Junior Erick Eguia, with second year students Michael Sutton (electrical and computer engineering) and Victor Damptey (brain and cognitive sciences), in partnership with Fundació Tr @ ms to create online teaching courses and design models to virtually deliver lessons, courses and workshops. Throughout the PAI, they taught online at 11 different schools and reached more than 1800 students throughout Spain.
In total, the MIT team created 12 online modules on different STEM topics, including sustainability, chemistry, biology, and coding. The lesson plans were designed for three different age groups and were accompanied by challenges that further applied the learning of the Spanish students around renewable energy, video game programming, waste management, etc.
“The Fundació Tr @ ms has been a fantastic partner that has exemplified its commitment to explore new and unique teaching methodologies and student-centered learning approaches,” says Alicia Goldstein Raun, Executive Director of the MIT- program. Spain. that Fundació Tr @ ms asked to develop a virtual GTL program. “
Raquel Fernandez, Head of International Projects, declares that “thanks to the collaboration with MIT-Spain over the years, the Fundació Tr @ ms and its associated schools have been able to access the GTL program in order to bring innovative methodologies from MIT directly to the classrooms. [Despite the program being virtual this year] MIT students bring their expertise and knowledge, as well as an extremely valuable personal impact to our students and teachers.
Although the live sessions of the program ended in January, the created content is still used through the online portals of Fundació Tr @ ms, in addition to the school program. The impact of Eguia, Sutton and Damptey’s efforts continue to spark conversations and learning, reaching other students across Spain. “This experience reminded me of the importance of looking to future generations and of science communication for all. At a time when skepticism has turned unhealthy, education in STEM fields seems to be the most powerful antidote we have. I will ensure that the work I do is not only usable but understood by the people it will affect, ”commented Eguia.
MIT students tested their own knowledge and expertise in the field as well as their educational creativity. As Sutton states, “When I was challenging, I wanted to have really practical and engaging issues, but I also wanted to be sure that the students would be able to take on challenges while following the Covid-19 safety guidelines by class. . This led to me spending hours researching fun and safe student activities which ultimately resulted in all of the challenges being fully online, but still as convenient as possible. “
In addition to teaching, MIT students shared what it was like to be a college student, especially in the United States at MIT. MIT students created a virtual “escape room” to give Spanish students a tour of the MIT campus while questioning them about their lessons. “I was able to share my experiences and interests with these students, which was an honor. If even a student had an interest or is encouraged to apply to MIT, then that experience was worth it… I also learned a lot about cultural diversity in Spain, ”says Damptey.
The MISTI GTL program provides a unique opportunity for MIT students to teach STEM subjects around the world and to align with the MIT ‘mind and hand’ motto as well as the MIT Better World initiatives. Amanda, a participant from a former GTL cohort, says: “I really enjoyed the opportunity to share my experiences, knowledge and interests with others. I learned so much chatting with others and teaching in school, and I think this experience made me more informed and broadened my perspective. I think I will come out of GTL as a better teacher and a better person.
“I hope we will be able to re-establish the in-person program for IAP 2022, and that more MIT students can participate in GTL in Spain,” says Goldstein Raun. “Meanwhile, thanks to course planning and the resources of this cohort of created students, we already have a toolbox of useful and shareable materials. “
The MIT-Spain program shares other plans for 2021 through their broadcast list and Instagram. Students can apply for distance learning opportunities through Hand shake. The program will also participate in a MISTI-wide celebration of all remote collaborations for 2020-2021, currently scheduled for late April. Alumni will share their research and experiences and how they have been able to connect internationally during this unique time.
“This program taught me that another aspect of research is being able to share your work and your passion with others. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind as I continue my research at MIT and beyond, ”notes Damptey.