By Elvis Rivera | M.S. Teaching & Curriculum ’18; C.A.S. Instructional Design Foundations ’18
Innovation is less about generating brand-new ideas and more about knocking down barriers to making those ideas reality.
—John P. Kotter, Accelerate (2014)
A well-equipped educational space is desired for significant student learning. Especially it applies to science classrooms. In Honduras schools, there are no science classrooms but a space called Science Lab. The Lab is used by all science teachers for experiments in their science and technology-related classes. However, only few schools in Honduras have a space with proper modern equipment, and only highly expensive private schools can afford it. I work in a smaller and poorer public school in the western part of Honduras, with 270 students. And I was determined to get the equipment for my school.
The classes that I took from IDD&E when I was doing my master’s in Teaching & Curriculum came in handy. Specifically, “IDE 764 Planned Change and Innovation” helped me kickstart my project of bringing modern and expensive equipment into my own classroom. The nascent idea became a reality using the diffusion of innovation principles. Classes in instructional design foundations (IDE 631) and program evaluation (IDE 641) helped me prepare a detailed grant proposal that resulted in getting financial resources from a foundation in Virginia; also, I networked with a fundraising party which helped me get $35,000 for my ambitious endeavor and what initially seemed to be a wild dream: For my developing country, getting financial help of that magnitude exceeded anyone’s expectations.
To enrich science instruction in my school with the obtained money, I acquired Arduino Kits for Electronic Prototyping; LEGO Robotics EV3 kits; PASCO Scientific’s multiple sensors and interfaces for science inquiry in biology, chemistry, and physics; and a 3D printer. It is brand new and currently I am designing and developing a custom laboratory manual with guidelines in Spanish so that current and future science teachers at the school could use the equipment going forward.
In April 2020, I used the 3D printer to manufacture several face shields for public health medical personnel in my hometown and in the nearby communities. Since the situation with the COVID-19 is currently bad, several U.S. universities are offering support to their cities by providing personal protection equipment. But my initiative was the first of its kind in this area of my country, since there were no face shields in store here; therefore, those manufactured face shields were developed to help protect people from the novel coronavirus. I got publicity and positive appraisal in a Facebook post of the U.S. Alumni Honduras as well as in a re-post of the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. So, Kotter is right: Generating ideas is great, but true innovation, however small, happens by overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of making these promising ideas a reality.
I am grateful to all my professors from the IDD&E Department whose efforts contributed profoundly to my being able to take leadership as a science teacher. I owe them a lot for my knowledge and skills in making a difference.
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