CEHS alumna and fourth-grade teacher Kristin Stansbury works to build community in her classroom through innovative techniques for engaging her students in STEM fields. Through curriculum that incorporates the principles in garden-based learning and technologies like the GigaPan camera, Stansbury provides opportunities for hands-on projects to enrich her students’ classroom experience.
“These projects are exciting because they create more meaningful and engaging learning experiences for students who can then can apply that knowledge in real-world scenarios,” Stansbury said.
Stansbury, who was mentored by CEHS professor Jim Rye in both the principles of garden-based learning and uses for the GigaPan camera, has recently had her work highlighted in the academic journal, Science and Children, as well as GigaPan Magazine.
In her co-authored article in Science and Children, Stansbury detailed the cucumber project she uses as part of her curriculum each year. For the project, students had to grow four different types of cucumbers and determine the cucumber that grew best under the conditions of a greenhouse. The students were tasked with taking care of the cucumbers as they grew, learning life skills like gardening and decision-making along the way.
“I like the hands-on aspect of it,” Stansbury said. “It’s a good way to get kids invested and involved in their learning. This project has the students apply what they’re learning in the classroom while teaching them life skills at the same time.”
In addition to this classroom innovation, Stansbury teaches with the GigaPan camera, which uses the same technology as the Mars Rover. It stitches together small pictures to make a large panoramic photo that allows students to zoom in and see small details. Stansbury uses the camera to illustrate tangible examples of academic concepts. For example, while explaining erosion, she can show her students the Grand Canyon using the camera.
“The kids can zoom in and see every little detail, like the ridges, which shows them how the water created that,” Stansbury said. “You can take a virtual field trip and delve into something that the students physically can’t go to but can see on their screen.”
This project was featured in GigaPan Magazine, providing Stansbury with the opportunity to share her passion for classroom activities that inspire student interest in STEM fields. More than that, Stansbury hopes that these projects will foster a sense of community in her classroom.
“It goes a long way and students will be more invested,” Stansbury said.