Join Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy for an in-depth discussion in this video Diana Hemsley: Art teacher, part of Project-Based Learning: STEM to STEAM.
Diana Hemsley: My name is Diana Hemsley. I'm a teacher here at Dos Pueblos High School. I'm teaching in the Engineering Academy currently, and also in the regular art classes as well. Diana Hemsley: I've been teaching here for the last three years since the program integrated the new curriculum and has taken on like 104-plus students a semester. Prior to that, we had a smaller organization, and so I basically came on for the last three years. Diana Hemsley: Wow, that's a big question it's, it's pretty exciting. I would say, you know, first and foremost you know, we've really like, taken education to a new level.
The fact that we're integrating the curriculum with four different media and four different types of curriculum, I guess we'll just call it curriculum. We have the Physics, the, the CAD, and the Engineering, the computer, the art and then of course the machining. So it's the first time that I've really worked into a program where we integrated all four of those to create a concept where the students are, you know, working by mixing all those, but coming out with a project that required all of those spaces to create it. Diana Hemsley: The biggest difference of teaching here in the engineering academy is really the facilities that we have.
I'm an art teacher, and so I've been teaching art for over 20 years. So as far as just project-based learning goes, I've been doing that, that's what I do. You asked earlier if I was trained in any way for this program, and I would say, I don't think I've had any additional training. You know, prior, prior to becoming a teacher, we have really good training as art teachers because it is pretty much project-based learning. So, the advantage I think I have coming into the program is that's the way I've been teaching already for 20 years. So for me, that part is kind of the same.
Of course, I've learned a lot along the way in the last three years, because now I'm doing project big, based learning, but it takes a lot of other people to do it everyday. So we have to kind of match ourselves together, and you know, figure out how to make it work when you pass the job maybe to somebody else on a rotation, or something. Diana Hemsley: Collaborating is great when you have teachers you want to collaborate with. And for us, that's a wonderful thing. I, I think the teachers in this program are all just fantastic. They're super fun to work with, it makes it really fun to collaborate. You know, we're so isolated as teachers typically, we don't have a lot of, just rebounding off of each other to build ideas and maybe just you know, figure out wha, what works between people, and here, we do it everyday.
So everyday, we collaborate we, we have to, you know, what, know what one person is doing in their space before they come to yours. We always have to make sure that a student's prepared to go to the next space, so the collaboration part is very unique, I think, the public education. But I also think it's probably one of our strengths in this program, because as an individual, I can come up with ideas, and that's great, and it's very finite. But when we sit down in a group, it's amazing just the interaction and the creative process that occurs because we have more than one mind thinking.
And we all think so differently that we bring these really unique things to every conversation. And so I think it allows us to kind of push the envelope of where we go at education because we're bringing in all these different skills and backgrounds. And I mean, it's really fun to just come and watch us, and immediately, it would be great to kind of maybe film that one time. Because you're going to see us like, oh, but did you think of this and that, and their minds are just kind of go crazy when we have these fun little frenzies. And, and the end product is that these kids are doing amazing things that you can't see anywhere else in public education.
Diana Hemsley: Yeah, we all have our role. I'm kind of the expert in the art area, but I also have kind of a science background, so I'm not totally clueless to what's going on in the other areas. We all kind of have that multi-disciplinary background, which is another advantage that we have with the teachers in this program. So, we all kind of understand what the other people are talking about when we, you know, change the conversations around those different curriculum. For me you know, the art education part just, it's really creative and it's what I'm used to, and so that's kind of what I bring.
Most of the assignments, or all of our assignments for the most part are art-related, project-based learning. So the final project that the kids are making are actually a piece of art, sculpture, something to that effect. So that end of it kind of comes from me, the, the concept behind the assignment, but how to achieve it comes from the other group. For example, I don't know if you've seen all the assignments, we're doing a light sculpture with the sophomores this year. The concept of the wrought art, and the lights, and the idea of the layout, I kind of came up with, but I didn't know how to make the lights work because I'm not an engineer.
So when we all got into our group and started di, discussing it, you know, the light bulbs, no pun intended, were kind of going off in everybody's heads saying, where are, you know, our machinist was like, hey, we can make this work this way. And our Physics teacher was like, this is great, now we can teach in circuitry and, you know, electricity. And the CAD teacher was coming in and saying, hey, this is amazing, now we can program this. So, by all of us having something different to offer, this kind of simple concept that maybe I came up with artistically, which was beautiful on its own, became this fantastic piece of, piece of art that required all these disciplines for the kids to achieve.
Oh, that, that is the truly the biggest difference in this program from where I've worked in the past. The parents and the mentors in our community are so vital to this program. I'm currently teaching in my unit soldering. So the kids are learning how to put, put together their boards and all of the circuitry and everything involved for this electrical pieces of art to come to life. You know, last year when I did this program, I did it by myself and it was very difficult, because I only have one set of eyes. And so I'm managing, you know, approximately 30 kids and each step along the way, I have not able to catch maybe little flaws in their learning of the soldering.
This year, we've had six mentors come in to that classroom everyday. And it has been unbelievable what we've been able to achieve. So now, we have an adult basically, or a professional who's managing, you know, four to six kids during that same amount of time, where I had to do, you know, up to 25 or 30 by myself. And, the things that we're doing with them as far as soldering goes is very technical. So they're learning to do things that are very state of the art. And the people that are now teaching them, along with myself, I'm more guiding the curriculum and allowing the professionals to step in and take over that process that requires a really technical eye for what, what these kids are doing.
So it's just been invaluable to have the parents and mentors from our community come in and assist us. Diana Hemsley: Well, each teacher is kind of responsible for their, their section of the grading. We don't all grade the same, and none of us, we're not really grading the same things at the same time. So for myself, you know, it's an in product that I'm grading that's usually creative in a certain way and artistic. Although soldering is not necessarily artistic, it's more you know, a real functional, necessary thing to have. So you know, for myself and for the program, we're trying to teach mastery.
So in a way, that's difficult, because a lot of times the kids aren't used to having some teacher give them something back time and time again and say, you need to do this over, you need to do this over, you need to do this over, until you get it right. Things don't work unless they're done right, and so we're really trying to teach the kids to recognize themselves when something is right, and done to the best of the ability. And not just to the best of their ability, but to a functional working ability. So in that sense, the grading is easier because when they do turn in a product, it has to work and it has to be done right.
And from the other end of it, some, some of the kids are having to do things multiple times to get it right. So the, the assessment is really about mastery and, and the kids walking out of your rotation or your unit understanding what it is we're trying to get them to learn during that, you know, how many weeks period that time is. Diana Hemsley: I have found that in this program, the students don't really seem to understand what it means to talk about art. They, they haven't had exposure to it, our public system doesn't really nurture that, and our society as a whole, I think, doesn't really understand art.
I probably don't fully understand art, you know, it's something we're constantly are learning about. But most of the kids, because they're kind of more technical in nature, that's way they applied for this program, they haven't really had any interest in art, whatsoever. And I've, I've heard quite often from kids, why are we doing this? I don't get this kind of thing, right? This isn't art, this is, you know, engineering or something to that effect. But you know, one of the kids came up to me this year, and it was really cool because he has never had art and we had just finished a painting which is part of the color theory that they're learning.
And he, he came up to me and said something to the effect of, I never realized how mathematical and how thoughtful you have to be to create a piece of art. And basically, where he was coming from is that they were doing kind of a pattern piece of art, where it did require some math skills and see, geometry skills, and all these different types of thinking. And it just finally connected with him that it was the creative process that made it art. Diana Hemsley: You know, here, here in America, we all kind of worry about the current state of where our economy is and, and the direction that we're taking.
And of course, you know, we've, we've heard so much about how we're falling behind, and how we're not keeping up with the rest of the world, and all of these things. And, and I always kind of challenge that thinking by, by making say, but people think, or see, or say that we are a very creative nation. And you know, on these international scores, we might not always be competitive on paper, but as a country, we've always maintained a very competitive status because we're so creative and we always allow people to come back and be creative no matter what point they are in life.
but, but we've kind of faltered a little bit. Our system hasn't really kept up with that manufacturing and that kind of, you know, I guess just outpouring of the US brand. And I, and I feel like this program is what it's going to take to kind of bring us back to that, where kids are learning all of the skills necessary to be, you know, productive and creative. And to promote this country in a way that kids feel confident about going into all these different areas of, of manufacturing or studying or whatever they chose to do.
I really feel that our program is well-rounded and it's teaching kids to be more worldly in a sense that they can achieve anything not just engineering. Because we really want them to leave the program with a, with a confidence that they can achieve anything if they have an intrinsic value in what they're doing.
When you're done watching the documentary, make sure to check out the bonus conversations in the Interviews chapter.