2016 Blackboard Award Honorees: Caroline Latham, Tanya Lerch, Kieran Peers & Aubree Stephens

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2016 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Caroline Latham, Tanya Lerch, Kieran Peers & Aubree Stephens
Grades 9-12, Math, Science & Technology
Convent of the Sacred Heart

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as teachers.

Aubree Stephens, Kieran Peers, Tanya Lerch& Caroline Latham. Photo by Karen Haberberg Photography

One of the joys of teaching for all of us is having students discover that math and science are very useful subjects and that they will be able to use the knowledge in their everyday lives. One of the best teaching moments related to this project was when Kieran Peers was asked by a Sacred Heart student when she would be able to use math again; he responded by raising a 3D printed prosthetic hand.

You four have helped to conceive and implement the study and design of prosthetic hands into the curriculum. Why has that proven to be such an inspiring learning exercise?

The Convent of the Sacred Heart teachers accept their Blackboard Awards. Photo by Karen Haberberg Photography.

In September 2014, Convent of the Sacred Heart was introduced to the Enabling the Future organization via a 3D printing professional development workshop we attended. Our intention was to learn more about the capabilities of 3D printing; the result was a year-long project that produced over 20 prosthetic hands. We began with a pilot program involving a team of teachers and selected math and engineering students in grades 9-11. We were excited about collaborating across disciplines. The project allowed us to integrate science, technology, math, and engineering; our Algebra and Geometry faculty team-taught with our Engineering and Technology teachers, resulting in an incredible synergy that propelled the program forward… The students love to see the real world applications of a project, and to use the engineers’ design process to create a tangible, meaningful project… Equally important are the non-academic lessons students derived. One of the school’s primary goals is to educate to “a social awareness that impels to action.” Students selected the recipient, contacted the family for preferences, and documented and updated the family throughout the print and assembly; communicating with the children who received the hands not only allowed the students to add fun customizations, but underscored the project’s underlying purpose: Helping others.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being dedicated and hard-working educators?

Sacred Heart students are known for how quickly they jump in to help those in need… This project was a wonderful example of our students living out the goals [of the school] in an academic setting. Our students kept us motivated by demonstrating their incredible persistence, tenacity, and commitment to successfully complete the 3D hand project… Their excitement, dedication, and sincere desire to help others kept and keeps us motivated and inspired to be the best educators we can be.