My Job: Introducing the Library’s Einstein Distinguished Educator

Kellie Taylor. Photo by Ars Nova.

Kellie Taylor is the Library’s first-ever Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator. The fellowship program appoints accomplished K–12 teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM fields — to collaborate with federal agencies and congressional offices in advancing STEM education across the country.

Taylor has a doctorate in educational technology from Boise State University. She teaches K–5 engineering at the Galileo STEM Academy, a public school in Eagle, Idaho. She started at the Library last September and will be in residence until July in the Learning and Innovation Office.

As a STEM teacher, what resources at the Library captivate you?
I can’t get enough of the Alexander Graham Bell papers. His notebooks about kites and aeronautics include not only data sets and photographs, but also hand-sketched measured drawings that can inspire students to imagine their own designs. Bell’s correspondence with his wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell, provides insights into his successes and failures — of which there were more than a few.

“My dear — I do so appreciate all the wonderful unfailing, uncomplaining patience that you have shown in all your work and the quiet persistent courage with which you have gone on after one failure after another,” Mable wrote to her husband. “How many have there been, how often an experiment from which you hoped great things, has proved contrary. How very very few and far apart have been your successes.  And yet nothing has been able to shake your faith, to stop you in your work.”

Bell’s papers can inspire students to create new designs while learning about past innovations  — and also encourage them to persevere.

What are a couple of your stand-out projects so far?
In collaboration with the Young Readers Center, I developed the “History of Printing Family Workshop: From Clay Seals to 3D Printing.” Adults attend the pilot workshop with the children in their lives to learn about the history and importance of printing through hands-on activities, and they design their own type or stamps in a web-based computer-aided design, or CAD, platform. The primary sources used in the activities help highlight the advancements in printing, promote creative imaginings for the future of print technology and encourage creation using modern print technology.

As an engineering teacher, I enjoy connecting hands-on activities to the history revealed by primary sources. In collaboration with Carolyn Bennett, this year’s teacher-in-residence, I created a project that allows students to learn about the history of bugle calls in the Civil War as a form of communication and then program their own bugle calls. With this one project, students can then learn about creating music, coding, and communication. A sample program and instructions are available on the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Teacher Network, which is funded by a grant from the Library.

How are you sharing the resources you’ve discovered?
The TPS Teacher Network has been essential for organizing materials as well as making them available for public use. The free network connects educators to resources and professional development opportunities for using primary sources from the Library’s collections. Materials for any activities I develop can be found on the network, including projects still in development. Many of these activities are featured on the Learning and Innovation Office’s blog, Teaching with the Library of Congress. I have also been able to write articles for the National Science Teachers Association journal to which the Learning and Innovation Office contributes monthly.

Within my home state of Idaho, I’m working with the Idaho Department of Education, the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Idaho STEM Action Center to create opportunities for professional development and resources for Idaho educators to integrate primary sources into the classroom through STEM.

How will your year at the Library inform your teaching?
The digitization of collections makes the Library available to anyone with internet access. I’ll continue to develop and share activities when I am back in the classroom. I value the real-world contextualization that primary-source analysis provides students. I can’t wait for my students to dive in!

What do you wish more STEM educators knew about the Library?
There really is something for everyone. Integrating primary sources into classroom instruction connects students to the history of technology. Activities such as the “History of Printing Workshop” foster inquiry through analysis of primary sources and hands-on learning. And that they should challenge students to identify problems within primary sources and develop their own solutions.

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