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September 7, 2022

Familiarizing Ourselves with Teaching Material- Carmen Belmonte Sandoval, BFA ID 2023 and Mei Zheng, BFA ID 2023

by carmenbelmontesandoval

Familiarizing Ourselves with Teaching Material- Carmen Belmonte Sandoval, BFA ID 2023 and Mei Zheng, BFA ID 2023

Written by Carmen

Hello everyone! I’m excited to share the journey Mei Zheng, my internship partner, and I have gone through during our Maharam Fellowship this summer. We’ve decided to write the blog in tandem to provide both of our perspectives with clarity.

Week 1 & 2 – 

We began the internship with one remote week in order to familiarize ourselves with some of the past lesson plans that HYPOTHEkids have done to serve as points of reference for our own lesson plan. We met with our supervisor, Liv Newkirk, who is the Program Manager for HYPOTHEkids’ Bio-force program, for the first time on Zoom. This was helpful in transitioning to our in-person interactions the following week.

We were introduced to the HYPOTHEkids headquarters in West Harlem, NYC and met the lovely staff. We finally got to meet with the Director Christine Kovich in person after having been in contact solely through zoom and email. Liv Newkirk familiarized us with the program we were intended to teach called the Pathways to Graduation Program, which I will explain next.

The Pathways to Graduation Program: 8 week program for newly immigrated students who come with varying levels of English proficiency to earn their GED (High School Equivalency Diploma) which is supported by the NYC Department of Education (DOE). The students vary in age from 16-23 years old and the cohort was composed of 25 students. There was a 2 week rotation starting at the Beam Center (located in Red Hook, Brooklyn), then our 2 week rotation through HYPOTHEkids, followed by another 2 weeks with Solar One, and to end with two weeks back at Beam Center for the students. This was a collaborative program with the three non-profits as well as the NYCDOE. For the first few weeks of our fellowship, we had to prepare the lesson plan since we were taking the lead for the HYPOTHEkids 2 week rotation that happened from June 5th to July 14th 2022.

It was fascinating to learn about the collaborations that occur in non-profit spaces. It is something I didn’t know occurred but I’m glad they do because they create more enriching programs and experiences for both the organizers, facilitators, and beneficiaries. 

Week 3 – 

It was proposed by our supervisor, Liv, to focus our lesson plan on using heart rate sensors with Arduino hardware/software. In preparation for that, we were able to join an Arduino and coding class taught by Liv that is under one of the high school internship programs that HYPOTHEkids organizes. The classes are taught at Columbia University’s Engineering building which is a few blocks away from HYPOTHEkids’ headquarters. We wanted to familiarize ourselves with the Arduino software before teaching it in our intended lesson plan for the Pathways to Graduation Program. It was interesting to find similarities between the design and engineering methods of thinking, because we do end up using similar terms but then have different definitions. For example, as Industrial Designers we do not necessarily have to worry about our products working if they are “looks-like” models but for Biomedical Engineers that is what comes first.

While we were at Columbia, we observed the Bioforce students who were learning how to code which was helpful in getting ourselves familiar with a classroom environment that would be somewhat similar to ours in the following weeks. 

Below are some images of our attempts at using Arduino:

June 30th, 2022 – First Visit to the Beam Center:

We were invited to see the final projects of the Beam Center’s first rotation on Thursday, June 30th. We got to meet the students before officially teaching, which was nice to see how they interacted with each other and how they introduced themselves to the guests when explaining their personal projects. The prompt was to make Identity Boxes using an Arduino code that allowed some of their elements in their dioramas to move such as a paper robot head, the sun, a llama, a ferris wheel, their flags, etc. It was heartwarming to see what they chose to include in their boxes. Some of the guests that came to see the student work were members of the DOE who I imagine came to see how the new programming was going.

Some students included pictures of their family, aspirations they have in life; one of the students wanted to become a nurse so she included images of medical professionals; another student loves to dance so she included a rotating silhouette of a ballerina in the center of the box with her family in the background overlooking the sunset. This moment was impactful to me because some were open to sharing their stories about why they are in the program and in the United States and some were away from their immediate family so they missed them. I truly appreciated their sincerity and trust through our conversations that were guided by their identity boxes. This influenced the way we were going to structure our classes in terms of trying to relate the topic that we would be teaching to their lives for them to have a personalized experience or at least know that we understand where they are coming from and want to meet them where they are collectively.

What’s Next?

We look forward to sharing insights on our first weeks of teaching in the next posts. It was lovely meeting the students at the Beam Center in that type of environment before our formal teaching.

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