The Wilson School’s Technology Coordinator, Melika Panneri, has been named a 2015 Independent Schools of St. Louis (ISSL) Teacher of Distinction for her work in integrating technology throughout the curriculum. As one of three award winners, she will receive a grant to be used towards further implementation of her work. She will also advance to the 2015 Emerson Teacher Awards program, which takes place this fall.
With the grant, Mrs. Panneri plans to attend the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in June 2016. “The way we have been teaching for the last century is rapidly changing. The best way to stay relevant is to be immersed in face-to-face dialogue with the best technology educators in the world,” says Mrs. Panneri.
Mrs. Panneri has spent many years developing Wilson’s coding curriculum that starts in second grade and carries through sixth. She has also collaborated with teachers in all subject areas to enhance project-based learning opportunities with technology. For example, fourth grade students studied the Vikings in social studies and then coded their own virtual worlds based on their knowledge.
At the ISTE conference, she looks forward to sharing what she has learned on this journey with others and also is interested in diving into more hands-on experiences with 3-D printing and makerspaces – knowledge she will bring back and apply directly to benefit Wilson students.
This summer, The Wilson School launched a new summer program for students – Think Camp. Led by Melika Panneri, Wilson’s Technology Coordinator, and Dr. Angie Zinkl, Wilson’s Science Specialist, campers were challenged to use critical thinking skills to solve problems, work collaboratively with peers to achieve a goal, and be creative. Activities ranged from low-tech to high-tech to no-tech, inside and outside the school.
Each day, campers were introduced to inspirational people from near and far, past and present, to encourage them believe in themselves, accept failure as opportunity, and to keep on trying while pushing themselves. On day one, they took a peek at some famous journals ranging from people like Mark Twain, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and Leonardo da Vinci. Throughout the week, campers captured their impressions and ideas in their very own Idea Book.
Throughout the week, campers created art, fashion and design, music, stories and games using a variety of age-appropriate coding applications. In teams and individually, they had to investigate different problem solving techniques, and persist in the face of difficult tasks. St. Louis-based Pixel Press, a technology company focused on building engaging gaming experiences for both sides of the brain, made a guest appearance. They gave campers an inside look at game design and even let them test a game that’s currently under development.
Campers invented with electronics using littleBits, electronic modules that snap together without soldering, wiring or programming. Through hands-on exploring within the engineering process, campers completed challenges that required them to “create something that does something.” For example, they made cars that move, disco lights that revolve, alarm boxes, dancing pigs and more. As one child exclaimed while waiting for his project to complete its task, “I’m so excited, I almost bent my pencil!”
Another popular activity with electronics featured Makey Makey, a portable invention kit. Using bananas and electric current, campers were able to "play" the bananas. They controlled their computers with them, played Super Mario Brothers and played the piano. One camper delighted the group with a rendition of the Theme from Star Wars.
The fun continued when the students went outside to enjoy the summer weather. A highlight of their outdoor experiences was a collaborative project to build a pool. They worked together in this endeavor using a sprinkler, hose, Imagination blocks, and a plastic drop cloth. Campers and instructors alike celebrated in the power of working together toward a common goal.
In its inaugural year, the camp was considered a wonderful success. “I loved every aspect of Think Camp,” explained Dr. Zinkl. “As a teacher, it was a wonderful and creative challenge for me to help develop this camp for Wilson students. Additionally, it was a joy coming to camp each day to help facilitate and guide the campers in their endeavors. It was exciting to see them come up with truly creative, innovative and original ideas. They wowed me every day!”
As stated by one parent, “My son had a great time at Think Camp, the best camp of the summer!”
Wilson in the News