Amy Ollerton, Visual Art teacher at Mapleton Junior High School in Nebo School District, participated in the Teacher Innovator Institute at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Amy Ollerton was one of thirty middle-school educators from across the country chosen to participate in the two-week program. The Teacher Innovator Institute instructs educators on how to bring the museum experience into their classrooms by connecting informal STEM education with genuine learning.
With an emphasis on providing authentic learning, the teachers participated in group work, attended museums, learned about space, and did many hands-on activities. Amy Ollerton said of the conference, “We met with area experts and went to seminars and talked about education. We saw IMAX movies about space, spent time at the Udvar-Hazy wing of the Smithsonian, and even went indoor skydiving.”
During the course of the program, participants are required to propose an independent project and see it through to completion. Amy Ollerton proposed a project called “Petroglyphs on Mars”. Amy said, “I ask students to imagine that humans have colonized Mars and that we decided to create a visual record of life on earth. We show the ideas through symbols carved into plaster, clay, or drawn on paper.” Students have represented life on earth through stories from world history, themes about racism, tales about why humans left earth, and stories from personal history.
Amy Ollerton learned a lot at the Teacher Innovator Institute at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Amy said, “I learned…great ways to incorporate STEM with hands-on projects. I learned about doing research at the National Archives, as well as the archives of the National Air and Space Museum. I also got a researcher card at the Library of Congress.”
Amy Ollerton will continue what she learned at the conference by participating in video-chats with Teacher Innovator Institute leaders, presenting at various professional development sessions, creating curriculum and activities for a new cohort, and going back to Washington D.C. over the next two summers.