Sharon Thompson

Sharon Thompson
Director of Innovation
Bullis Charter School
California, USA

An educator’s journey from swimming to dance to STEAM!

Sharon Thompson is the Director of Innovation at the Bullis Charter School in California, USA. She teaches computer science classes and uses SAM Labs with her seventh and eighth graders. She also works with other classes and teachers to help integrate technology into the curriculum.

Teaching is something that Sharon has been doing since her teens. She explains that she started by integrating dance into the curriculum in high school and then worked at a summer camp as a swimming instructor.

“I loved my experience working with kids and teaching is something that has always come naturally to me.”

The most rewarding part of Sharon’s job is when students have that ‘aha’ moment.

“When students finally get something to work after persevering through a debugging fix and they put both hands up and say: ‘Miss Thompson, I got it!’ - that’s the best part of my job.”

Sharon sees firsthand the positive impact SAM Labs kits have on her students. She believes that it teaches them to be inventive and makes prototyping much easier.

“Sometimes the students spend so much time on a prototype that they get attached to it and they’re not that excited about making changes so I think that it’s super important to have something that allows students to prototype really rapidly. What I like about SAM Labs is that you can make changes really quickly - if you don’t get it right first time, you try again. It’s just like the process of debugging - if something doesn’t work – change it.”

Art and design are subjects that Sharon’s seventh and eighth graders are really interested in. Sharon sees an opportunity to introduce programming by explaining how they could use coding to enhance their designs.

Bullis Charter school contains the regular curriculum in nine-week blocks interspersed with three-week intersessions of specialized learning. During this period, students enjoy project-based classes and focus on different areas such as engineering and design. Sharon is looking forward to using SAM Labs in the applied arts class to bring the students’ shadowbox designs to life. “The students make a shadowbox with a five layer design by using the vinyl cutter. We will be adding and programming SAM light sensors to create different light patterns.”

Sharon believes that students should also create authentic projects for real users and present them to a real audience.

“That’s when they see the point of learning something and the concept becomes powerful”