XinXin Feng is a University of Washington (UW) student working towards her PhD in Education. Her research focuses on student learning across settings and in culturally relevant ways. At UW, she has spent two years as a Community Partner Fellow at the UW College of Education. This program works to foster partnerships that create community and provide “educational opportunities for the students who are furthest away from equity,” she says.
That’s how XinXin found TAF. Our presence on UW’s campus as a partner in the Martinez Fellowship meant that she knew about our work in education. At the same time, her research suggested that TAF could benefit from a new, informal education partnership.
“Students actually [are] learning constantly,” XinXin reports. “They don’t just switch on their learning button when they’re in classrooms … student[s] keep learning and they’re learning in different ways.” Addressing that out-of-classroom learning “is essential for education equity,” XinXin continues. “For students who come from underrepresented communities…what they have been taught in school is not enough.”
STEMbyTAF’s project-based learning begins to address this equity issue through connecting classrooms to real world problems and centering student voice and choice. As XinXin says, “students learn better when what’s taught in school is connected with their cultural and historical backgrounds.”
To continue to expand and enhance its equity-based work, TAF was eager to gain a new community partner.
XinXin, seeing the opportunity for both organizations, then connected us to the Pacific Science Center. As an informal education organization, they get students curious and excited about science outside of their normal school environment. With their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, they are a great match for TAF.
From that partnership (so far) 12 TAF students participated in the PacSci Makerspace challenge and two additional students are Discovery Corps interns. The Discovery Corp program is an up-to-4-year opportunity where interns Jacqueline and Miley have found a PBL background from TAF@Saghalie to be an asset.
Jacquline demonstrates “how PBL benefits students who know exactly what they want and are good at” with her confidence about where she can excel. At the same time Miley is “adaptive to all kinds of environments and challenges,” XinXin remembers.
Our partnership with PacSci is one that we hope will continue to provide opportunity for TAF students both in the Discovery Corp program and beyond.
Seeing our students learn and thrive reminds us of the importance of experiential learning and the partnerships that allow us to provide relevant, real-world learning for our students.
You are also an important partner as we keep striving to give our students new opportunities. Give today to help TAF reach more students and educators to create classrooms where students are centered in their learning.