This week we had a chance to catch up with Nahid Zahedi, the principal of our CCA Academy campus, as she gave us a tour of the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electrical Innovation in the Armour College of Engineering, on the grounds of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). An IIT alumna, Principal Zahedi shared her thoughts on how her science and engineering background had prepared her for understanding the academic and post-secondary needs of her students. Here are a few questions that I asked her, and her responses:
MC- What has been your connection with the Galvin Center?
NZ- I participated in some of the initial work on the Smart Grid as part of my post-graduate studies in mechanical engineering, aerospace and thermal science. Years later, in a grant funded program for teachers that was offered through the Galvin Center, we learned a lot across multiple fields – topics for today’s research such as global warming, clean energy and sustainability. The Smart Grid model on display represents some of the aspects we studied as part of the University initiative to improve the reliability, security, efficiency, and sustainability of Chicago’s and the nation’s electrical grid.
MC-How has CCA Academy provided opportunities to expose students to STEM topics?
NZ-At CCA, we take STEM one step further, integrating the arts and science. We call our program STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). This allows our students to utilize their artistic talents to create and design products like solar ovens and solar cell phone chargers. Exposure to both science and art fosters critical thinking skills, linking students to the resources that we have around us, providing a way to connect them to their learning. STEAM allows our students to be both artists and scientists concurrently, utilizing the model of the epitome of Understanding by Design – starting with the end in mind and discovering the path into the future.
MC-As you expose students to STEAM, what outcomes are you hoping for?
NZ- Job and internship opportunities are primary. All students need role models across the STEAM fields – from architectural design to agricultural innovation to alternative energy design and implementation. As the trends continue toward sustainability and clean energy, it is our expectation that our students will use this integrative knowledge and become the leaders of the new technologies in our communities.
(Understanding by Design is trademarked as the curricular model created by Wiggins & McTighe)