Every year, she teaches her Center Grove High School students how amino acids work using Legos.
Danielle Myers’ students are asked to build a protein structure using the popular toy in their biology classes.
In the next few weeks, she will be teaching that same lesson to students in their classes in China. Myers leaves today for Beijing and Hangzhou as a 2016 International STEM Fellow.
Ten other Hoosier teachers are making the trip through the Chinese Education Connection and the Indiana Department of Education.
Myers and other Indiana teachers will present STEM lessons to Chinese students, observe typical STEM classes in China and present at an international STEM conference.
Myers hopes she will be able to see what makes Chinese students so successful and bring teaching and curriculum techniques back to Center Grove, she said.
“One of the big focuses of the corporation as a whole is not just focus on advancing STEM curriculum but (connecting) with teachers around the world,” Myers said.
The first part of her trip kicks off in Beijing, but she will be teaching and presenting in Hangzhou, China, which is near the large city of Shanghai, she said.
Teachers on the trip are asked to teach a lesson to Chinese students. Myers chose the Lego protein lesson because she developed it herself a few years ago, and it uses models, a concept that Chinese educators have been interested in integrating into their classrooms more, she said.
“One of the things Chinese are interested in is how to incorporate more models,” she said.
Then she will present at the conference, where she will talk about some of her other lessons that are hands on and use models.
She will tell educators about a lesson where students are given a “dragon egg” and must figure out what the baby dragon will be like using chromosomes from the adult dragons and the lesson where students must put candy in a plastic bag without putting a hole in the bag. She is planning to discuss 15 to 20 lessons that she has done, she said.
“It is using every day activities to help model ideas we find in our classrooms,” she said.
Myers decided to apply to be a fellow after taking graduate school courses in STEM education and hearing a classmate talk about the fellowship.
Center Grove has made large strides in extending STEM education in the last few years and Myers wanted to add to that, she said.
And she hopes that she will learn from her Chinese counterparts, too, she said.
Chinese students are some of the most disciplined in the world and are some of the best test-takers. Myers wants to harness what their educators do and bring ideas back to Center Grove, she said.
“For the longest time, we have all known the Chinese culture is very competitive, and so many brilliant minds come from China,” she said. “Their test scores are impeccable, and that is a huge emphasis here.”
The trip is also a cultural exchange, and Myers plans on taking a walk along the Great Wall of China and visiting the country’s forbidden city.
“I have been promised that we will work really hard and play really hard,” she said.