Her primary focus in this new role is to integrate technology seamlessly into lessons so students can understand foreign concepts and develop new twenty-first century skills. By enriching the curriculum with technology, she is equipping each student with the tools they need to comprehend, learn, and problem solve in today’s world.
“My main goal is to expose students to opportunities and technology so they will possess the resources they need to excel in school and life. I want them to be excited about and comfortable with technology. I want this inclusive learning environment to impact them positively so they have the confidence to speak up and say to a teacher or employer—I think I know a better way to do that,” said Mrs. Mechling.
Mrs. Mechling's focus on STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—education introduces cutting-edge teaching methods and trends into the Lower School classrooms and beyond. She acknowledges that some students learn differently, and that further advances in technology can boost understanding so girls can continue to make gains in science and technology related fields. And not only does the integration improve comprehension and retention, technology in the classroom increases the fun factor.
“My students are excited about technology because they’re learning new skills. They’re learning how to use the tools that they see older girls and adults using. We’re showing them that these devices can be used in a variety of ways––it opens the door for them. They’re exploring new things in a hands-on fashion. Here at Ellis, they can create things they dream up, write about them, and reimagine them,” said Mrs. Mechling.
From starting the Innovation Station makerspace in the Lower School, to using Hummingbird Robotics Kits, Mrs. Mechling is making STEM integration exciting and fun for young girls. She’s giving the Lower School faculty the tools they need to think outside the box, and turn traditional teaching methods on their heads. Lucky for Ellis, her innovative approach to integrating technology doesn’t just happen in the traditional classroom setting either.
This year Mrs. Mechling was inspired to start Ellis’ own Mini-Maker Faire after attending Google’s Maker Faire with grade 4 students. At Ellis’ faire, girls attended teacher-led workshops on podcasting, green screens, and vinyl cutting. From there, she started working with Director of Educational Technology Tim Howard on a Lower School Podcast. New this year, the podcast will give Ellis girls a chance to host, draft scripts, explore topics of interest, and provide informative, educational info to parents, other students, and faculty. These tie-ins to the technology and science programs in the Lower School create an interdisciplinary approach where students learn across disciplines to further comprehension and enhance understanding. By weaving STEM into every classroom, students are naturally interested and motivated to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math. Mrs. Mechling's future goals include growing the iPad pilot program, expanding the Mini-Maker Faire, and continuing to introduce new programs and applications.
“Technology facilitates storytelling. And at Ellis, everybody wants to be involved. Everyone here is along for the ride. If students are struggling—faculty members notice and make a change. You don’t go unnoticed at a school like this. Ellis educators are willing to try new things without question when they might not always know the answers. We want to develop in that sense and learn new things together. Together we can mix things up, try something new, and make it fun for students,” said Mrs. Mechling.
Mrs. Mechling's role in the Lower School bridges the gap between traditional textbook learning and modern methodology, so students can apply lessons via real-life applications that are innovative and fun. Whether it’s avatars that bolster public speaking skills or stop motion apps that enrich students grasp of the food chain, technology in the classroom serves as a developmental research tool that enriches the Lower School curriculum. Students learn to problem solve, think critically, and troubleshoot via new ways of learning. Mrs. Mechling's dedication to STEM success in the Lower School ensures our girls are prepared to move to their next class and advance to the next grade with confidence.