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Teacher Case Study: Wendie & the Makerspace

Wendie Turner is no ordinary teacher. After having taught for 21 years, she now serves as the head specialist for Stanton-Smith Elementary’s resource center. What was once a library has now been divided into two distinct spaces for students to learn; one half has books, while the other half is now home to a makerspace. Students arrive at the space full of anticipation to learn more about science and technology, with interactive resources like a light up stage, Lego wall, magnet wall, wind tunnel and robotics corner!

Wendie has always been passionate about giving all students equal opportunities, especially in regard to getting girls interested in STEM, as this is a field often dominated by their male peers. Therefore, with the help of public donations via Donors Choose, Wendie was able to purchase imagiCharms as a way to draw the attention of her female students.

And just like that, 10 fifth grade girls became the first class of Code Charmers who met every Monday after school to learn more about coding with Python without the pressure of other classmates watching. Over the weekend the girls would code on their own using the imagi app and would come to school on Monday eager to show their teachers and classmates what they created.

After a whole year of club meetings, it was time for the Code Charmers to go on summer break. Wendie decided to have a party celebrating all of the hard work these girls had accomplished in the last year, complete with a candy charcuterie board with cookies and sweets galore.

One girl came up to Wendie after the last meeting, thanking her for creating the after school club. She confided that it was fun being able to learn more, but that the best part was having a group bonding time with girls she would not have known otherwise.

Code Charmers made her look forward to school on Mondays and gave her an hour to not worry about anything stressful going on, instead she could just focus on coding.

Looking back, Wendie feels a sense of pride and happiness. She confesses that although introducing coding to girls was one of her top priorities, what was most important was making sure fifth grade girls retain their confidence, as this is often the point in childhood where girls begin to shy away from new things out of fear of being judged. Wendie urges others in a similar position as her to start after school clubs for girls, regardless of the subject matter. 

You cannot let yourself hold you back due to the fear of not knowing everything about the content you want to teach. In fact, Wendie knew very little about coding before receiving her imagiCharms.

What is more important is having quality time with the kids, and reassuring them that it is okay to put yourself out there and try new things, as failure is just one step on the way to success!🌟

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