Teen Teaches STEM Sciences to More Than 1,000 Children
Cassandra Ivie, 16, teaches a hands-on electronic class through Utah State 4H –Cassandra Ivie
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By Tori La Rue | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s never been enough for Cassandra Ivie to be well-versed in the sciences—she has a need to share it, too, her mother, Deborah Ivie, said.
At 16 years old, Cassandra has taught more than 1,000 children about science, technology, engineering and math at community events, fairs and camps. This summer she hosted a Gear Tech 21-day camp, where she taught students how to build a robot, and a camp for kindergarteners where she taught fundamentals of programming.
“I like getting both sides of education,” Cassandra said. “You always hear teachers say that they learn more from teaching than being a student, but I never understood that until I became the teacher. I realized that while I wasn’t learning a whole lot about STEM, I was learning everything about being a leader and a role model.”
Cassandra’s biggest project of the summer was creating the curriculum and gathering the supplies for what she calls “Incredible Machine Kits,” kits that are filled with resources to teach six kinds of engineering to children through hands-on activities. She and her friend got a $6,500 grant to begin the project, and they created two of the 10 kits during their summer break.
The kits will be used at schools in Magna and Kearns during the 2016–17 school year and will be in the Utah State Office of Education during the summer, so rural counties across the state can borrow them for programs
“The idea is that rural communities shouldn’t have less involvement in STEM just because they have no supplies and don’t know how to get the program started,” Cassandra said. “We’ll give those rural counties step-by-step curriculum and all of the supplies, so all they have to have is a desire.”
Cassandra said she wants to take her parents’ philosophy to the rest of the state with her kits and camps. The nine-member Ivie family often gathers together to work on STEM projects and experiments, which has increased the confidence of their kids, Deborah said. The Ivie children know they have the skills to go into STEM majors and careers even if that’s not the path they end up choosing, she said.
“I am a strong believer that what is holding kids back from STEM is themselves,” Cassandra said. “They say, ‘That’s only for smart kids and kids who are good at math,’ but I want to show them what they are capable of.”
Cassandra’s curriculum for the kits and her camps starts out with easy projects to help her students feel successful. She gives them harder projects once they’ve mastered basic projects. She said she believes that if she would have given them the harder projects in the beginning, they wouldn’t have accomplished them because of their mindset, but after the students feel successful, their mind is in a place to accept challenges.
Cassandra enjoys doing rigorous projects herself when she is not coaching children on STEM. Her robotics team of about 12 high schoolers, ProtypeX, built and programmed a robot that won first place in the world championship robotics showdown in Boise, Idaho, during April, and she won the Extemporaneous Speech event at the Technology Student Association’s national competition in Nashville, Tennessee, in June where each contestant was given a technology topic and 15 minutes to write a three- to five-minute speech.
“That was a really cool moment for me because I’d done a lot of debate, and to mix technology with public speaking and be awarded was amazing,” she said. “In addition to running tech programs for middle schools, I’ve decided to start a debate club, too, and now I feel like I’ll know how to combine them and teach others.”
Cassandra said she’s not sure if she’ll pursue STEM subjects as her career, but she said she’ll continue to develop her skill set in science, technology, engineering, and math and help other students find the same passion she does.