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Local Curry Alumni Educators Get In On the Maker Movement

Published on 07/01/15 in News » Articles

Teachers at Maker FaireFrom June 12 to 18, a group of educators from Albemarle County Schools joined the White House in celebrating the National Week of Making by attending the Capitol Hill Maker Faire and the National Maker Faire in Washington, DC.

Among those educators were Curry alumni, Stephanie Passman (M.T. ‘09 Elem Ed), a gifted resource and intervention teacher at Stony Point Elementary School, and Eric Bredder (M.Ed. ‘13 IT), an engineering teacher at Sutherland Middle School, as well as Superintendent Pam Moran (M.Ed. ‘80; Ed.D. ‘97 Admin & Supv) and Director of Instructional Programs Chad Ratliff (M.Ed. ‘06 Admin & Supv).

Between these four Curry alumni they made two presentations at the National Maker Faire, one at U.S. Patent & Trademarks Office, and two at an invitation-only White House events. Superintendent Moran participated in a panel presentation at the House of Representatives

They also built a replica of the Rotunda out of LEGOs (see photo).

UVA Today’s Skyler Frederick spoke with Passman to learn more about their experience.

Q. What is the National Week of Making?

A. The “Week of Making” is a celebration of being producers instead of consumers. It is a call to tinker, create, experiment, design, invent and think. It is what we try to bring to our students in Albemarle County every day: the ability to actively create something new instead of passively absorbing information.

Q. How were LEGOs integrated into the fairs?

A. At the National Maker Faire, the LEGO exhibit was a large-scale outline of the United States and participants could build anything to put anywhere. The exhibit was a great example of the maker-infused curriculum that we have focused on in Albemarle for a few years and is now gaining traction within government agencies, higher education institutions and other school divisions around the country.

Q. What is the importance of a maker-infused curriculum?

A. When the learner/creator is in charge, there is personal investment in and ownership of what has been created and learned. My students at Stony Point Elementary tinker, invent, create and subsequently learn in much the same way, as we have intentionally incorporated the maker approach into our school district’s culture.

Q. How did you decide what to build?

A. We immediately felt called to build the Rotunda, as any good Wahoos would be. No one told us to build a Rotunda, or how to build it, but we wanted to figure it out because the Rotunda was meaningful to us.

Eric Breddar and student
In this photo Eric Bredder poses with with Nick Anglin, a Sutherland Middle School student, at a White House event celebrating Innovation in Career and Technical Education.  Nick invented a training product that uses lasers to signal to a baseball pitcher when he is throwing strikes or balls over home plate.  He showcased his invention at the White House, demonstrating how the maker curriculum can spark entrepreneurial ideas among students.

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