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Science Teachers Share Info about Biomimicry and Hyperdocs at STEAM Conferences

Litten, Chevalier present teaching techniques at STEAM conferences.

Science+teachers+Winnie+Litten+and+Ellen+Chevalier+pose+at+a+STEAM+conference.+Litten+and+Chevalier+have+presented+innovative+teaching+strategies+at+multiple+conventions+in+California+.
Science teachers Winnie Litten and Ellen Chevalier pose at a STEAM conference. Litten and Chevalier have presented innovative teaching strategies at multiple conventions in California .

Science teachers Winnie Litten and Ellen Chevalier pose at a STEAM conference. Litten and Chevalier have presented innovative teaching strategies at multiple conventions in California .

Photo courtesy of Ellen Chevalier

Photo courtesy of Ellen Chevalier

Science teachers Winnie Litten and Ellen Chevalier pose at a STEAM conference. Litten and Chevalier have presented innovative teaching strategies at multiple conventions in California .

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Science Department Chair Winnie Litten and science teacher Ellen Chevalier have been sharing their teaching techniques at STEAM — Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics —conferences in California.

According to the California STEAM Symposium website, “The California STEAM Symposium provides educators with opportunities for ongoing rigorous, high-quality, collaborative and inspiring professional learning and resources. . . The conference also showcases innovative approaches to teaching and learning happening throughout the state.”

Litten and Chevalier presented at both the California STEAM Symposium in San Francisco and STEMposium in Ventura.

“We’re representing Oak Park High School on two levels — one, the topic of biomimicry and two, ways to be interactive and engaging and a paradigm shift in how you present information,” Litten said.  

Litten and Chevalier use hyperdocs which — digital documents with embedded links shared Google Classroom — combine all aspects of the teaching process into one document. Hyperdocs allows students to learn independently and at their own pace, according to Chevalier.

“Students sit in the driver’s seat and we sit in the passenger seat. [The students] drive the curriculum,” Chevalier said.

Hyperdocs, which guide students to watch videos and complete a variety of assignments within the document, are beneficial to learning, according to freshman Galia Broussi.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to not only learn how to use technology, but put it to good use,” Broussi wrote.

Litten and Chevalier presented the use and effectiveness of hyperdocs at the conferences.

“Hyperdocing has a huge impact on the way students learn” according to Chevalier. “It’s the vehicle we use to talk about biomimicry [and other topics].”

Litten and Chevalier also presented their biomimicry curriculum at the conferences.

“The idea of biomimicry is looking to see how other organisms in the environment solve problems and mimic that. We’re, as a society, a lot about heat, beat, treat and maybe we need to look to some other strategies so we do not create so much waste and so much destruction,” Litten said.

Biomimicry has all sorts of applications; many of which can be useful in industries such as medicine.

“There’s a company called Sharklet Technologies that has literally made films that mimic the surface structures that sharks have. They’re putting these films in hospital rooms so that bacteria doesn’t grow in hospitals, so you don’t have to use cleaning and disinfectant,” Litten said.

According to the Sharklet website, their vision is “to invent and develop non-toxic, topography based products to improve human health.” Sharklet draws inspiration from the shape and pattern of the dermal denticles (scales) of sharkskin and uses it to help improve human life.

Biomimicry teaches students to look at the world and come up with solutions to real world problems, according to Chevalier.

“The idea that we can look to nature for solutions is something we think is really valuable,” Chevalier said.

Presenting at these conferences has allowed Litten and Chevalier to share their pedagogy with other teachers and impact the way students study and learn science.

 

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