Inspiration Soars When Applied
Brenda Mitchell, MAEd, CEHS 2015
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Alumna, 2012
Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, 2016
Brenda Mitchell, MAEd, saw her sixth grade students from Hogan Middle School in Vallejo turn into little engineers for the first Bay Area KidWind Challenge. All she had given them was the challenge to harness the power of the wind. To do that, the youths had to design a turbine that could stand up to the KidWind competition’s wind tunnel. As part of their Project-based learning, which puts a complex problem in the hands of students to solve, Ms. Mitchell’s class would have to test variable after variable if they were going to keep the wind from slipping through their fingertips.
“My students had really honed their skills while trying to create the blade with the most energy,” says Ms. Mitchell, a TUC Alumna. “It was project-based learning at its finest.”
Ms. Mitchell knows the value of seeking out new challenges. Six years ago she retrained herself to teach after serving as a project manager at a financial institution. To enhance her pedagogical skills and apply her business strengths in the classroom, Ms. Mitchell turned to the Graduate School of Education.
“It’s my second dream job,” she says. “I love keeping my students focused on success, whether it’s in closing reading gaps or researching with reliable sources.”
Her students’ own excitement about the KidWind program began when the turbines, provided by the KidWind program, came into the classroom.
“They had to calculate for different variables like blade length, tilt, and pitch. Because it was all real world application, they didn’t look at it as school work. Even with all the math, they loved it!” she beams.
The moment of truth came when judges placed the students’ turbines in the wind tunnel for one to two minutes.
“Their turbine did wonderfully. They generated more energy with less variability than the other teams. You don’t want your lights to be flickering,” she laughs.
The students at Hogan took 1st and 3rd place at the February 10th event. Now they will go on to compete at the national KidWind competition in Chicago, the Windy City, at the AWEA Windpower conference on May 8th.
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