Archive for the ‘Real World Learning’ Category

MCPS Teachers Attend STEM Workshop

September 28, 2017

On Saturday, September 23rd, MCPS teachers attended a STEM workshop in Westmoreland County.  Teachers from MES, SCW, and MHS have been participating in summer and weekend workshops to gain knowledge and training in  techniques in using problem-based learning in a Makerspace setting.  The program, called STEMLabs and Design Briefs for Building STEM Knowledge, is funded through the University of Mary Washington by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia through Title II Part 1 NCLB. Middlesex County teachers are participating along with teachers from Colonial Beach, Rappahanock County and Westmoreland County.

Faculty from the UMW Colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences and educators from the Friends of the Rappahannock have partnered with approximately one hundred teachers and administrators from Superintendent’s Region III to develop a program of intense, high quality educational experiences that utilize a problem-based learning context, the Design Brief, to deliver middle and high school mathematics and science concepts aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning.  As part of the program, MCPS received materials for their STEM labs and Makerspace areas that include 3D printers, Hummingbird Board Duo kits, and Vernier sensors to use with student projects.   

(See MCPS teachers in action in the video below!)

Below,  you can see a group of MCPS teachers working on a project they created to design a system to remove trash from our storm water system. They built and programmed a model of a storm drain and created a device to remove trash from the drain. The teachers used Hummingbird Boards and Visual Programmer Language to create this project. For more information about the program, you can visit


Hands On Learning at SCW

September 26, 2017

SCW has partnered with Friends of the Rappahannock to offer real world experiences in the area of science. On Monday, sixth grade students had their first field trip to learn more about and practice water quality testing in Urbanna.

Practicing the 5 C’s

September 15, 2017

These students may look like they’re doing a puzzle, but they’re actually engaged in critical skills building to prepare for work in tomorrow’s global economy. As Virginia moves to a more holistic accountability profile in public education that includes workforce development and skills, MCPS is embracing the challenge to incorporate creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, citizenship and communication into every instructional experience.

Here, the Teachers for Tomorrow students are solving a problem (the puzzle) without the ability to speak or touch each other’s puzzle pieces. This requires exercising a new set of communication skills – ones that are often overlooked in the classroom – and collaboration to solve a problem.

Look for more opportunities for students to practice these skills so essential to the workplace as we move through the school year!


What Better Way to Learn about the Human Hand than to Build One!

April 10, 2017

Using a collection of materials that cost next to nothing, MHS teachers Vanessa Edwards, Melinda Hodges and Jessica Newsome created an extraordinary experience for students to explore the anatomy of the human hand.



The activity is part of the school’s larger MakerSpace initiative that grew out of Edwards’ desire to give kids a place to explore hands-on learning, design and creativity. The MakerSpace is open in the library every Friday morning before school and students use an assortment of materials and objects to design creative solutions to real-world problems.

And now teachers have started to book the MakerSpace during the week.

Vanessa was able to get $5,000 through a Department of Education grant, and the division is part of a Mary Washington College grant that will provide 3-D Printers, laser-printers, and a host of other “maker materials” that will further position the space to be an authentic 21st-century learning lab.

We are excited about the future of the MakerSpace movement and how allowing students to explore learning through creative problem solving with enhance the skills they will need to thrive in today’s economy.


Reality Store: A Partnership with an Engaged Community

April 7, 2017

Members of the Middlesex Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs and the educators at St. Clare Walker Middle School team up each year to create a remarkable experience for middle school students. The “Reality Store” is set up in various locations throughout the school. The different aspects of life within a community are created virtually to allow students the ability to interact with the financial decisions and responsibilities that await them in adult life.

Students log onto a secure web portal where they research and select careers, they acquire (monopoly) money, learn the essence of the fundamentals of banking, and are then unleashed into a virtual society of decisions that require reflection and careful planning. At one station, a volunteer walks them through housing decisions, at another they recreate the purchase of vehicles and clothing – all the while coaching and mentoring students through the checkbook balancing process so they can see, in real time, the challenges of living within a budget.


We are thankful for the time, energy and expertise our selfless volunteers bring and share with our students. Reality Store is an incredibly valuable educational experience and one we look forward to flourishing for years to come!


%d bloggers like this: