ARCANUM — Arcanum-Butler Fifth-grade Science and Social Studies Teacher Cindy Dickman’s fifth-grade science students were motivated, May 25, to achieve the goal of their assignment.
They were given an engineering design challenge of launching an army man to hit a target three meters away. Protected by safety glasses and equipped with Popsicle sticks, a plastic spoon, a paper cup and an army man, groups of students brainstormed. They were given five minutes to think alone, five minutes to brainstorm with their team and 20 minutes for trials and improvements. Finally, each team presented their methods to the class.
“I have heard some good conversations,” Dickman said. “We have done some catapults before. Some of you have good ideas, but it does not have to be a catapult to think creatively.”
One student Ethan Bennett and his team tried a couple methods before reaching success.
“We stabbed the spoon into the top of the cup and then we put the army man on top of the spoon, but it kept falling off,” he said. “So we ended up taping the stick to the spoon to give him more support.”
While this is not a typical class of Dickman — normally there is lab work involving charting, collecting data and making hypotheses, she makes time for hands-on activities. This avant-garde approach to teaching is one reason Dickman was selected as an “Unsung Public School Hero.” She was nominated by someone in the school or community.
“It is an award where they honor teachers for doing what all of us teachers do — coming up with engaging lessons for our kids and doing creative things in the classroom,” Dickman said. “I felt really honored to have someone nominate me.”
The purpose of recognizing “Unsung Public School Hero” according to Becky Higgins, President of the Ohio Education Association, is to acknowledge their hard work and commitment to making their local communities a better place. As part of her acknowledgement a special segment about her was played on 81 radio stations across Ohio with the following message.
“We recognize Cindy Dickman, an inspirational fifth- grade science teacher at Arcanum Butler Middle School. She motivates her students with interesting hands-on science activities, often providing the materials needed with her own money. She is part of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) team and helps lead a one-to-one pilot program with her fifth-graders.”
Dickman has been teaching for 27 years — 14 at Arcanum. She likes to develop projects with real-world connections.
“I love the excitement the kids have, especially in fifth grade,” she said. “They come to me from the elementary to our middle school and they are so excited about everything. They will look to see what we are doing for the day, and they got really excited when they saw we were going to launch something today.”
In addition to the army man launch, Dickman’s class has launched rockets, made roller coasters with pipe insulation and marbles, created a puppy life jacket and a dog house that protects dogs from the sun’s thermal energy. While Dickman was excited to be recognized as an “Unsung Public School Hero” she said she is also excited and feels very blessed to be working in the Arcanum School District.
“I work with a great team of teachers and administrators,” Dickman said. “We have a lot of parent and community support at Arcanum, and we have awesome students!”
To see Cindy Dickman’s nomination or to nominate someone as an “Unsung Public School Hero” visit https://www.ohea.org/get-involved/nominate-unsung-public-school-hero/
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