Global CoCreation Lab visiting co-teachers give interactive STEM lessons in Miami-Dade public schools

Members of the Global CoCreation team with Miami educators. Left to right: Steve DeSantis (MIT), J. Brown, teacher Henry S. West Laboratory school, Doris Sommer (Harvard), Timothy Johnson (MIT), Cristian Carranza (Miami-Dade County Public Schools), and Aileen Ferrer (Miami-Dade County Public Schools).

One hundred 5th and 6th graders learn about neuroscience, cardiology, and international biomedical research

In late January 2020, the new joint initiative between Miami-Dade County and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Global CoCreation Lab, sent a delegation of “co-teachers” into public elementary classrooms to give special lessons in neuroscience, cardiology, and working in international biomedical research. 

Monika Colombo, a Bioengineering PhD candidate from Politecnico di Milano in Italy spending the semester at MIT, and Gemma Molins, a bioengineer from Barcelona working at the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, co-taught 5th and 6th graders at the Henry S. West Laboratory School in Miami.  

“My main goal was to reach the hearts of these kids, to explain the importance of investing time and energy to discover the beauty of research,” said Colombo, who gave interactive, multimedia lessons about how the heart works. “Most of all, we showed them that there are no language, race, gender, or income barriers when it comes to what we are passionate for. We involved the kids in the activities, and they gave us the best gift by replying enthusiastically and actively participating.”

Steve DeSantis, an MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, co-taught lessons on electricity and magnets in Mrs. Claudia Rubio’s 6th grade science class, also at the West Laboratory school. He was impressed by the students’ engagement and thoughtful questions. 

“The students asked what may seem simple questions, but in reality are very well-pointed and often cut to the core of key issues,” said DeSandis, who also shared his interest in developing technologies to help people with brain injuries and diseases like stroke and dementia. “I was very impressed by their proactive interest and questions related to neurology and biology, which demonstrated a grasp of the key challenges in science along with a healthy dose of creative thinking.”

The CoCreation team, which was led by MIT Global CoCreation Program Director Dr Mercedes Balcells and project director Timothy Johnson, also met with teachers and school administration to discuss the challenges and opportunities of STEM education in the elementary classroom. 

The visiting CoCreation teachers left feeling inspired by the curiosity, energy, and stories the students shared with them. Colombo noted, “I was opening my life up with these amazing, curious and active kids, and I went home inspired and conscious that the research I do, the energies I spend, are all aimed at creating a greater knowledge for the generations that are coming.”