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Christianne Loupelle: Learning by doing to "make things better" with STEM

Year: 2019 — Province: Quebec
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Christianne Loupelle

Science and Technology, grades 7, 9 and 10, Physics, Grade 11
Trafalgar School for Girls, Montréal, Quebec

"Ms. Loupelle encouraged me not to take things she presented in class at face value. … [Her] encouragement to question what other people say and to defend my own opinions was very important, especially to a young woman about to enter a male-dominated field."
— Former student

Christianne Loupelle's class looks more like your parents' garage or the shed in the back yard than it does a typical classroom. With her DIY approach to teaching STEM subjects to girls, she gets them learning by doing, with hammers, drills, duct tape, potting soil, elastics, batteries and feathers.

Teaching approach

Christianne is always experimenting alongside her students and inquiring about the world. Believing that STEM can and should be used to "make things better," she has moved away from short-term learning for the sake of assessment to a long-term, deeper understanding of the subjects at hand.

STEM in the classroom

  • Guides student inquiries into hands-on projects: the Paper-Dress Project raised awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls; students researched the issue, learned about the properties of paper, designed and constructed the dresses, and held a public vernissage.
  • Emphasizes digital literacy so students can use their iPads and the Internet aware of privacy concerns and cyber-bullying, and knowing how to be an ethical Internet user; the school-wide Twitter feed helps students identify reliable information.
  • Focuses on transferable skills: for example, during a cross-curricular project to design a playground, Grade 7 students are learning collaboration, brainstorming, how to give and receive constructive feedback, interview skills, data-gathering, and design and presentations skills.
  • Created iBooks for her grades 7–9 classes that allow students to use adaptive technologies such as "word to speech," which is particularly beneficial for students with dyslexia and other challenges.

Outstanding achievements

  • Led team of students representing the school and Canada to the World School International Forum, which brings together delegates to discuss global issues, such as the future of food and water.
  • Partners with community organizations so students can, for example, participate in a community garden or learn about urban beekeeping (with a school hive that yields honey to sell, with the profits going back into the program and other green initiatives at the school).
  • Runs daylong Science in the City workshop to introduce grades 4–6 girls from greater Montréal to the STEM fields; complemented by a new two-week STEM/maker summer program for girls.
  • Shared her ideas on classroom design and the importance of partnerships in delivering relevant curriculum at a national forum of educators who work at schools for girls.

Get in touch!

Trafalgar School for Girls
3495, rue Simpson
Montréal QC H3G 2J7

514-935-2644
info@trafalgar.qc.ca, https://trafalgar.qc.ca/
Twitter: @TrafalgarMtl, Facebook: @TrafalgarSchoolforGirls

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