“Students in twelfth grade should ask more questions than preschool students.” This challenge drives Dayna Derichs as an educator to present opportunities for her students that promote their curiosity. After spending one week with STEM Fellows from across the state, Dayna’s eyes were opened to the vast opportunities to incorporate STEM components into daily curriculum.
Prior to this school year, she was an elementary classroom teacher who sought to take students to the next level in their understanding of the world around them. This meant finding real-world connections so that fifth graders could apply their learning to solving problems they face. After her experiences with NDE STEM this past July, Dayna has a more critical view of how to connect STEM education to all aspect of what is taught. Participating in the STEM Fellows’ tour of the coal mine in Grand Island, Dayna was surprised at the level of detail workers maintained when producing electricity. Every aspect of the coal mine modeled STEM skills in the real world.
As of August, 2016, Dayna is a teacher librarian at Wheeler Elementary in Millard Public Schools in Omaha. This dynamic position has allowed her to bring aspects of STEM into her technology, digital citizenship, library, and coding lessons. #STEMintheLibrary has now become her characteristic hashtag. By seeking out authentic phenomena, Dayna has found herself flying drones with Alternative Curriculum Program students, posing monthly instant engineering challenges in the school’s new Makerspace, and creating models of the water cycle with preschool students. If this is any indication of where STEM will lead our elementary curriculum, the sky is certainly not the limit!