Rising Scholars’ high school credit courses continue to provide hands-on experiences for students

Rising Scholars’ high school credit courses continue to provide hands-on experiences for students

The learning never stops— even during a pandemic, and our educators continue going above and beyond, despite the challenges.

Each of our campuses has been issuing kits of materials to students who are attending classes virtually, to ensure they, too, receive the same “hands-on” experiences as students participating in-person.

Two of the eighth-grade elective courses at South Texas ISD Rising Scholars Academy (Rising Scholars) in San Benito – Principles of Health Science Technology (HST) and Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Gateway to Technology – which both require the use of hands-on activities to understand and put into play various concepts and skills, continue to find ways to keep students engaged while not physically being present on campus.

Since the inception of the HST course at Rising Scholars, each student has walked away from the course having learned to take main vital signs: body temperature, pulse and respiration rate and blood pressure, and this year will be no different, despite teaching and learning during a pandemic.

HST instructor, Ms. Rose Cordova-Galvan, has adapted well and isn’t allowing the current state to interfere with her teaching.

Galvan prepared kits for 150 students learning virtually, which consisted of a stethoscope to practice measuring one’s apical pulse and auscultations and a paper disposable thermometer.

In the past, students have used these instruments, among others, to practice these skills with classmates, but with safety procedures in place for students participating in on-campus instruction, online simulation has played a central role for those students and those learning remotely, in addition to practicing these demonstrations on family members with the tools provided to them.

Similar applications are applied to the PLTW Gateway to Technology course with Mr. Fernando Andrade.

“The PLTW curriculum is designed to give hands-on experiences as they learn important concepts throughout the course,” said Andrade. Although the curriculum allows for flexibility, the greatest challenge is ensuring all students have the needed resources as they move through the activities, and we make sure neither instructional method is losing instruction, resources or supplies.”

Andrade provided material kits for the 117 students enrolled virtually in his course, so they too, would be able to create the same prototypes as in-person students. 

Students received a ruler, dial caliper, linking blocks (for modeling), wooden cubes (to develop their final solution), isometric paper, sand paper, tacky glue, safety glasses and puzzle shapes that will be used to learn how to measure using the dial caliper.

Students will create multi-view sketches using the instruments received, and after mastering the use of precision tools for converting measurements, students will move on to using the linking blocks to create a specific solution by creating a unique cube puzzle. The students will have to use a tree diagram (a mathematical process for calculating probable solutions) to generate possible combination pieces for the puzzle, then build a puzzle using the wooden blocks, glue and sand paper.

The purpose of this project is for students to apply the entire design process from start to finish. This includes the initial brainstorming, designing the solution, gathering data and presenting the solution.

In terms of adapting teaching and learning to the times, Andrade shares, “Before COVID, students would work in groups and build relationships, which is essential to project-based learning. But now we find ourselves having to work more toward building that experience, and we have definitely seen the roles begin to shift as students work harder to build those relationships and work interdependently."