Author Archives: Ian Fogarty
Last night, two of my students spoke at TED-X Moncton Youth. I am fortunate to interact with both Beth and Skye almost daily through www.CurrentGeneration.org. This blog post focuses on SKYE who credits Current Generation as a contributor to helping her to discover and be confident in her super powers.
Skye Ables (grade 12) spoke about her journey as a “smart girl” going through the school system, hiding who she was inside, uncertain of her talents, trying to live up to social expectations both locally and in the media without any real female STEM role models. She talks about the moment she realized that she wanted to be an engineer, the moment she realized that she was acting as a role model for the next generation of young female engineers and urges us all to contribute positively to the education of females around the world. While it is true that globally, there is much work to do, locally, we still have a long way to go if we are going to be sustainable.
The CBC did a little profile on each of the speakers.
Last night, TEX-Moncton let students steal the stage. We were fortunate to have two high school students be on stage, Beth and Skye. I am most fortunate to be connected to them both through www.CurrentGeneration.org
This post focuses on Beth. While she does not speak directly about Current Generation in her TED-X Talk, Current Generation is the kind of issue and program that allows freedom for students that she urges at the end. Well done and thank Beth.
Beth Stevens (grade9) spoke about being motivated to learn when the learning is in the context of solving real problems for real people. There is something special that happens when the work is authentic. Motivation for learning increases, multi and transdisciplinary learning happens, and students gain self-confidence because the find they have an important place in the world, perhaps contributing to more positive mental health. The project that excited her was around Bike Safety and Ellen’s law which urged her to create a safety light, which she now sells. She urges adults to teach current events so that students will be aware of the issues and provide space for them to DO something about it, not just make a trifold poster with a rubric. She urges kids to take a chance, learn for real purpose and not worry so much about the grade on a project, but to focus on the grade of a society and the grade of our planet. If we are going to live sustainable lives, there are lots of problems out there to solve, including climate change and plastics.
The CBC did a little profile on each of the speakers.
Beth Stevens STEM project from Middle School is now being sold at the markets on Saturdays. The Moncton CBC interviewed her last week.
Riverview teen invents ‘Beth’s A Metre Matters Bike Light’
Beth Stevens was inspired by Ellen’s Law and is now selling her STEM project at the Moncton Market
CBC News · Posted: May 11, 2019 8:00 AM AT | Last Updated: May 11
A student from Riverview High School has come up with an invention to help cyclists and motorists share the road safely.
Beth Stevens, who is 15 years old, has developed a light that shows a motor vehicle driver how much clearance a bike needs when they pass it.
The light is attached to the bottom left side of the bike frame and has to be angled to illuminate the road over a distance of one metre.
“It would be hard to tell, if you’re driving, how long one metre is,” said Stevens.
“If you’re in the light it means they’re too close.”
When positioned properly the light also ensures a cyclist is visible to drivers.
“That way, if they aren’t giving the metre, they can’t say, ‘Oh, I didn’t see the cyclist,’ because that’s a big issue.”
Stevens said she tries to get out and cycle as much as she can because it’s good exercise and good training for the other sports that she does.
She came up with the idea for “Beth’s A Metre Matters Bike Light” as a school STEM project. The challenge was to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics to solve a real-world problem.
While she was doing research, there was a lot of talk in the news about Ellen’s Law.
The provincial law was brought in after the death of up-and-coming competitive cyclist Ellen Watters, who was struck during a training run in the Sussex area.
Vehicles in New Brunswick are now required to keep at least a metre away while overtaking a cyclist.
The penalty for not doing so is a $172.50 fine and the loss of three driving points.
Her first prototype used a 12-volt, 12-pound battery, said Stevens. It had “a bunch of wires” and a switch that attached to a bike’s handle bars.
“It was very made-in-your-garage. It was fun to make but it was also really impractical.”
She refined her invention over the course of multiple entrepreneurship challenges and with the help of her parents and Riverview High science teacher Ian Fogarty.
The latest version is a USB rechargeable red light, that has a little button on top and five different modes — low, mid and high-beam (“kind of like your car”), flashing and strobe.
Stevens recommends strobe mode during the day and steady beam at night. She said the light shines toward the ground so it shouldn’t be blinding or distracting to drivers.
“After you’re out for a ride, you can just plug it into your iPhone or computer charger and just get it all juiced up and then go back out again.”
“I think it’s brilliant,” said Simon Dubé, executive director of La Bikery bike co-op in Moncton.
Dubé said things have improved in the last few years, but he still gets cut off frequently. And even the drivers who seem to want to give him clearance don’t always do it well enough.
“They give us maybe … two feet. To have that light is a gentle, passive reminder that this is one metre. This is what it looks like. And you have to respect it.”
Matt Savage of Savage’s Bicycle Centre in Fredericton said he also likes the concept. He’s seen some similar products in recent years that use laser lights to draw lines on both sides of a bike.
Many bike lights use strobe effects, he said, and he’s never heard of any safety issues from them.
Stevens is currently sourcing her lights overseas but is looking for a New Brunswick manufacturer.
So far, they’re selling well among friends and family members.
“My grandfather took five lights this weekend and he sold them to all my relatives. So, he says that he’s my new sales rep.”
And Stevens was encouraged by the interest from customers at the Moncton Market.
“I got a great reaction and I’m super happy about that,” she said.
She plans to return today and next Saturday.
Our friend Koen Timmers has partnered with the Jane Goodall Foundation to introduce Innovative Labs Schools that will bring modern teaching strategies and opportunities to remote villages. When their RV arrives at a village, they will have computers, interactive whiteboards and a world via the internet at their finger tips. They have devices and connectivity, but can only charge their devices when the RV is in town. What happens during the times between visits?
We are working towards the idea that Current Generation lights will be distributed to the remote villages and that BrightCases will be use to solar charge their laptops.
Connections-Base Learning is a book written by a friend of mine, Sean Robinson from BC, Canada. To me, it is something much deeper than the title of a book, but rather a description of our experience together that seems to have come full circle.
A few years ago, Sean and I used SKYPE to connect our students from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast. We showed them how to solder and sent them a little starter kit so that they could make a copy of the Colorado Lantern (www.e-b.io). It was a great success, but we soon moved on to other projects and students lost touch with each other. I don’t think either of us knew how important this SKYPE would become.
Those of you who know me, know how slowly I read. So it was a big surprise to even me, when I started reading Sean’s Connections Based Learning book in almost one sitting. I started on the plane leaving Dubai and finished before landing in Moncton. I was entranced. I loved how he wrote, talking about his students and projects in a personal and practical way and combined it with theory that helps students connect, collaborate and cultivate.
When he told me that Engineering Brightness Canada (now CurrentGeneration.org) was in the book, I expected a sentence and maybe a name drop. Little did I know that Engineering Brightness would show up in some depth and detail in almost every chapter through out the book. I did not know that small interaction began something special. I was so proud to play a small part in what is now their own international movement. They have also looked at making solar charged tablets and are partnering with a solar panel organization. The connections continue, because their partner is also our partner. Tony at Voltaic Systems managed to be connected to both of us- independently. I am so happy that Sean took something small, and made it his own project which has now seen lights in the Dominican and Uganda. More students in Canada are having an evolved Transdisciplinary educational experience and more people living in light poverty have access to clean light. Teachers and students learning through Connections.
Microsoft TransformED published an article about some of the work that my students are doing. Please note, that I am one of 3 CO-FOUNDERS of Engineering Brightness including John Howe and Tracey Winey of Fort Collins, Colorado.
TransformEd Change Agents: Ian Fogarty
By Microsoft in Education Canada Team Posted on February 22, 2019 at 3:14 am
For TransformEd, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow Ian Fogarty shared his thoughts on a few of our questions about the Class of 2030. Ian is a chemistry and physics teacher, the co-director of SHAD at the University of New Brunswick, and one of the co-founders of CurrentGeneration.org, an organization that collaborates with students to impact light poverty. He has fantastic insights into student engagement, collaboration, and working with technology for good!
What are some of the most surprising outcomes of personalized learning in your classroom?It’s amazing where students will go if they can leverage a personal strength or passion to explore an area of insecurity and bring about long-lasting, deep learning that changes the trajectory of their lives. I personalize my students’ learning by conducting large semester projects in addition to my essential content and skills in physics and chemistry. I often begin by asking a few key questions. What do you do for fun? What do you want to do after high school? The answers help direct their project.
-Jay was excited by improv. He wrote, directed, and performed a Chemistry Road Show at local schools. Decades later, as a lead on Broadway, he recites chemical recipes and thermodynamics from high school.
-Cassie learned coding, 3D printing, and bioengineering to invent an inexpensive prosthetic suitable for her mom, who’s an amputee. It changed the direction of her life from music to mechatronic engineering.
-Timothy experienced such social anxiety that he had never given an oral presentation. Because of his passion for social justice around light poverty and the lights that he built in physics class, he spoke for 20 minutes with Anthony Salcito at ISTE Denver, presented a poster at Princeton IEEE STEAM, and gave an eloquent talk to provincial and federal politicians. He is now on the Dean’s List in a criminology degree, where he advocates and debates confidently and competently.
All of these personal mini-miracles happened because students leveraged their strengths to explore areas of insecurity in carefully designed, personalized science projects.
How do you confront challenges to equity in technology and education?There are 1.3 billion people in the world who live in light poverty, which means that when the sun sets, they choose between sitting in the dark or burning kerosene, brush, or candles. All of these options have serious negative socio-economic, health, environmental, and educational ramifications. For example, how can they do homework under those conditions?
This is a problem that my CurrentGeneration.org students can solve as they learn their science curriculum in a transdisciplinary way, while simultaneously developing into empathetic global citizens. My students practice their writing and public speaking to communicate with our global friends living in light poverty to gain an understanding that allows them to complete the first two steps of the design-thinking cycle: empathize and define. They use physics, economics, and art to ideate and create a prototype. The prototypes are tested in the classroom and then sent to our global friends living in light poverty, where they continue the testing. Their feedback is used for the next iteration.
CurrentGeneration.org also seems to be addressing another inequity gap in STEM/STEAM education: gender. Approximately 80% of the students are female. This in-school and after-school project changes the perception that engineering is a cold-hearted way to make a new mousetrap. Instead, it’s a warm-hearted way to make the world better.
What benefits do you see when student voice is encouraged?Voice is the path from passive to engaged. We give voice to students both in and out of class. We still cover all the Science 12 content; however, at each reporting period, the power is handed to the students as a group to decide on the formula that will be used to calculate a grade. This process develops communication, collaboration, critical thinking and empathy in the students. It also makes them feel as though the students and teachers are on the same team, playing this game of learning. The first year I employed this strategy, the intrinsic motivation resulted in 100% attendance in an early-morning grade 12 class during the final semester.
The second step is to design personalized projects that allow students to use their creativity and have a voice to solve real problems in their community. One group designed a helmet that would send data to the coach about the impacts experienced by athletes to help prevent secondary injury. Cass changed her trajectory from music to mechatronic engineering when she built an inexpensive prosthetic for people like her mother. Brae overcame his fear of speaking in class and was able to keynote on stage with Michael Fullan and 300 other international educators, speaking about his work designing solar powered solutions for the Jane Goodall Foundation.
To find out more about future-ready learning and the skills that will matter most for the Class of 2030, head to microsoft.ca/TransformEd. For courses, resources, and a community of edtech-empowered educators, visit education.microsoft.com. To learn about Microsoft education tools and classroom technology, or to schedule free PD for your school, take a look at microsoft.ca/education.
Engineering Brightness (www.e-b.io) is spotlighted at the HundrED Sustainability Summit as one of the top 10 Projects in the world for Sustainability in Education at the Muse School in California. What a privilege to be in the same class as the Green School in Bali and Eco Schools who are in 86 countries.
The MUSE school in Calabasas California is a model school for sustainability. They have pondered every aspect of the school to make sure that their walking their talk. They have reused some of the planks from the old cabins to make a fence, old windows to make beautiful signs at the entrance, fantastic solar panels shaped like sun flowers that provide the kitchen with 100% of the electrical needs.
The students are feed one meal a day, and it is 100% Plant based. Their chef is pretty fantastic. The meals were amazing! I was full and I lost 2 pounds during the 4 days I was there.
The students are very involved with the running of the school. There are no custodians, the teachers and students pick up after themselves and are responsible for taking care of their own space. The students each do a rotation in the kitchen, learning to cook sustainably.
It Is kind of cool that someone like the wife of James Cameron, with all that privilege is willing to use her time and money to conduct a positive educational experiment. What is possible? Now that they are showing success, they are starting to make inroads into the public school system, which is a slower boat to turn.
Natalie Day and Saku introduced the findings of the HundrED search for innovative projects around the world. They talked about how the innovation was not enough. The innovation had to be going in the right direction and be scalable. Both commented on how much they liked the Engineering Brightness because it was so well thought out, and simple, yet made a tangible impact and could be scaled to any school anywhere in the world.