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Off to a Great Start: Update from Techbridge Seattle

It has been an exciting journey for the Greater Seattle team over the last several months! As the first expansion site outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, we are especially excited to kick off Techbridge in Greater Seattle. We began programs in October at five elementary schools and two middle schools in the Highline Public Schools District. Our small team of three is comprised of myself, Annalee Herrera, my co-Program Coordinator, Chanel Easley, and the Greater Seattle Executive Director, Elizabeth Hodges. I’d like to share some of the early experiences Chanel and I have had as Program Coordinators thus far.


After working in environmental education for the last five years in Hawaii, I find myself leading my Techbridge programs in the same neighborhood I grew up in. It is great to be back home, and I feel empowered to be able to give back to my community. One thing I love is learning about my students’ interests and backgrounds. I also like to celebrate the great diversity in each of my classrooms. The majority of my students speak a second language, so it is not uncommon to hear Vietnamese, Somali, and Spanish all in one program day! My aim is to have the girls teach myself, and each other more about their cultures, and also a few words or sentences in their home languages. I am definitely learning from them, just as much as they are learning from me!

 

Being a Program Coordinator with Techbridge has already been a rewarding experience. During a Structural Engineering unit, I complimented a student on her intricate Spaghetti Tower drawing. She exclaimed, “I want to be a structural engineer when I grow up!” I told her that she was using and learning the exact skills she needs to get to her goal. I am looking forward to their explorations in our upcoming units in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

 

Chanel in programMy colleague Chanel works with two middle schools and two elementary schools. She finds her work especially interesting because she is able to work with two different age groups. Chanel and her students are excited about the upcoming units in Structural and Electrical Engineering at the middle schools, and Environmental and Electrical Engineering at the elementary schools. During a recent Mechanical Engineering unit, girls at Sylvester Middle School worked on Jitterbots, a mechanical toy project. After redesigning her Jitterbot, one girl excitedly came up saying, "Ms. Chanel, I think I got it!" as she demonstrated her work and smiled. It is these “a-ha” moments that we both enjoy most about working with the girls. 

We’re also pleased to see high rates of participation from both the girls and their families at every school. Chanel expressed, “It's great that although this is Techbridge’s first year in Seattle, there’s been so much support from the school community!”

Annalee watches girls do activityIn the month of November, Chanel and I hosted the first Family Nights at each school. It gave us greater insight on our students’ backgrounds and helped us learn more about them. We found that our students’ families were equally as enthusiastic about Techbridge. One family expressed that it was great to just sit down and spend time with their daughter in a learning activity. Another parent, whose family immigrated from Somalia, expressed that she was grateful for Techbridge because we really “encourage and motivate” her daughter. She was thrilled that her daughter was learning about opportunities in STEM fields that weren’t available to her when she was growing up. We too feel grateful and honored to be able to teach in such a diverse and dynamic community.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.“ With a small team of three in Greater Seattle, we indeed resonate with Margaret’s words. Although our programming team is smaller, we feel very much a part of the greater Techbridge family. We are looking forward to sharing more of our experiences as we continue to grow Techbridge in Greater Seattle!

 

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