Jayda Pugliese is a young—and already award-winning—teacher who can serve not only as an inspiration to the fifth-graders she is teaching, but also to the rest of the world. The learning in Ms. Pugliese’s class is top-notch, with math students progressing impressively, and many working above their grade levels overall. The tools are impressive as well, and this is thanks to this dedicated teacher’s efforts. She now has a fully equipped STEAM classroom after writing for grants and campaigning for donations; not only that, she will be working to further the knowledge of the faculty at the Andrew Jackson School in Philadelphia for the STEAM program.
We caught up with Ms. Pugliese recently to ask about her experiences in teaching, 3D printing, her recent award, and more, as we continue to highlight the importance of education to the future of technology through our Spotlight on Educators series.
How did you first learn about 3D printing?
“I cannot remember the exact point in which I learned about 3D printing. I have always been a tech-savvy person, and I enjoy researching and learning about currents trends in technology. With that said, I do remember the first time I wanted a 3D printer in my classroom. In 2013, I began reading articles about how some school districts were utilizing 3D printing in schools. It ignited my desire to bring technology this to my classroom and my students.”
What was the first 3D printer you ever used, and what were your initial thoughts about the technology?
“The first 3D printer I ever used was a MakerBot Replicator. Honestly, I never used a 3D printer until I raised money for one in 2016, using the teacher crowdfunding site, DonorsChoose. I learned how to do everything through watching YouTube videos. I will never forget the first time I printed something. It was a life-changing experience. I realized that I had the capacity to change the world at my fingertips. The technology is accessible and user-friendly. I believe that is why it being used in schools more frequently.”
How long have you been teaching?
“I have been teaching for nine years; although, I have not always worked as a STEAM teacher. Over the course of my career, I have also worked as a Special Education teacher, English as a Second Language Teacher and an education coordinator. I was very fortunate to have recently won the Milken Educator Award. The Milken Educator Award is similar to winning an Oscar as a teacher. I was 1 out of only 35 teachers to win this national award this year, and I know I was a recipient because of my work as a STEAM teacher.”
Can you tell us a bit more about your STEAM-focused classroom, and what kind of equipment you have there?
“STEM education refers to the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEAM education incorporates the ‘A’ for the arts, recognizing that to be successful in technical fields, individuals must also be creative and use critical thinking skills which are best developed through exposure to the arts. STEAM is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world. In my classroom, I attempt to make as many opportunities as possible for hands-on STEAM experiences. These experiences allow for students to make real world connections that will enable them to become successful in future STEM-related careers.
In my STEAM-focused classroom, I have 1-to-1 chromebook initiative, a MakerBot 3D Printer, Matter and Form 3D Scanner, 3Doodler Pens, Ozobots, Snap Circuit Rovers, Omax Microscopes, Makey Makey, X’nex, document camera, drill press, saw, tools and a plant lab. I am currently raising money for a laser cutter and some additional 3D printing supplies. I would love an additional 3D printer, but I know it will take me a while to raise the money needed for one.”
“It took me about two years to become this established. Due to school funding issues, my school was not able to afford the vision I had for my classroom, but completely supported the idea. So, I began raising money via DonorsChoose in 2015. I was very fortunate to get my 3D printer and supplies funded in only a month, raising over $4,100.”
What was the reaction of most of your students, seeing a 3D printer in the classroom?
“My students are obsessed with our 3D Printer. Many times, in the middle of prints, they randomly get out of their seats, just to observe the printing process. I have grown to become okay with it, because I know they are curious. My students fully embrace the printer as their own, and are very protective of it. They know how to calibrate the build plate, change the filament and troubleshoot issues. They love playing with CAD program any time they get. It is amazing how much they learn. It is also important to note that I am in an extremely diverse, title one school. Many of the students within our school come from low-income households. Half of my students this year did not have a computer within their home. So, I enjoy exposing my students to various types of technology, and knowing that this is first time any of them are being exposed to next level technology.”
Have you had comments or reactions from parents?
“I have an open-door policy in my classroom. Parents (of current or future students) are welcome to observe in my classroom any time throughout the school year. I also hold school-wide STEAM events in which we invite parents to come and learn about the various technologies I have within my classroom. I am very fortunate that they love this STEAM-focused curriculum. Most of my donors are parents of present or future students.”
Do you feel like 3D printing in the classroom is preparing more students for careers in science and engineering?
“I definitely believe it is preparing more students for careers in science and engineering. We are exposing them to possibilities. A 3D printer ignites the imagination in students. It is remarkable how empowered students become once their 3D designs are turned into real, tangible objects. One project I competed in with my 5th graders was to create a prosthetic hand for a four-year-old girl. My students were able to make real-life connections on how 3D printing will can impact the world. This is what changes their mindset; the application. Many students leave my classroom with the desire to go into a STEM-based career.”
Because there is so much discussion about the continued predominance of men in engineering, I’m curious about how you think that will change in the future. Do you see young girls showing an interest in such careers when asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’
“I think it goes back to exposure. Young girls need to see a strong, female teacher not afraid to use technology, not afraid to use power tools, and not afraid to get dirty. I think this recent shift in STEM-based and STEAM-based programming will help change the face of science and engineering. With time, more and more young women will realize they are able to pursue any career. I see the shift in my own classroom. More than ever, many of my female students have the desire to go into a STEM-based careers. And many of my students attribute it to the fact they find a passion in the area they never knew they had.”
“One project my students always work on is a business plan. My students collaborate in small groups to create a new company. Their company will be responsible for producing a new collectable item for a population of consumers they wish to target. For example, some students may want to create a collectable item for young children, while other students may want to focus on collectibles for teenagers. Students create a company name, logo, slogan, mission and vision for their brand. They then research the market, design a product, print out the product using the 3D printer, identify the overall costs to mass produce the item and determine the margin for profit through surveying consumer reactions to their product. At the end of the unit, students come dressed for success in business suits/dresses and present a sales pitch to their classmates using their printed 3D model and a PowerPoint presentation of their business plan, consumer reactions and sale projections.
We also will continue doing service-learning projects. In the past, we have built a prosthetic hand using our 3D printer. We will continue with that initiative. But, I have recently partnered my classroom with the charity, Pawsthetics. Pawsthetics creates animal prosthetics. My students will work with a number of animals in need to develop prosthetic parts for all sort of ailments. Whether it is birth defect or injury, my students will be creating parts and prosthetics to help the lives of these animals. It is through projects like these that students develop a true passion for Science and Engineering.”
Ms. Pugliese’s classroom benefits from her dedication and tech know-how, with her engaged students reaping the benefits of 3D printing in the classroom as they continue in their education. You can follow learn more about this inspirational teacher on her website and see her site on DonorsChoose to support continued efforts, including a currently running project to raise funds to teach tolerance with help from classroom 3D printing.
Share your thoughts in the Jayda Pugliese forum at 3DPB.com.
If you are interested in sharing your story, or know an educator we should get in touch with, please reach out any time. Send us an email or connect on Twitter. We’re looking forward to sharing your stories. Find all the features in this series here.[Photos courtesy of Jayda Pugliese]