Founder / Teacher / Nerd
Niecy Westmoreland exited the womb, cried, and started asking questions. She's always loved learning and her curious nature has made her a loud and proud nerd since age zero.
Her childhood was happy and reasonably normal considering that she has nine siblings. Some highlights include learning to sew at age eight and surviving The Great Finger Sewing Incident of 1992 with fully intact appendages. At age ten she dabbled in inventing, her most notable invention being WindMuffs. Regrettably, WindMuffs, earmuffs designed to attach to bike helmet straps, never took off in Arizona markets.
Ms. Westmoreland received her degree (summa cum laude, of course) in Elementary Education from ASU, and she is continuing her studies with an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. She has truly loved her last nine years teaching 3rd and 4th grade in the Kyrene School District and her last four years coaching her school's FIRST LEGO League robotics team.
Ms. W has a motto: "Be curious."
Ms. W loves a lot of things, but there's a few things she really really loves... Science. Gadgets. Making stuff. Kids. Teaching.
She started designing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Making classes for upper elementary kids and then taught some very successful summer classes in 2014. She decided to call them nerding, because, well, that's what they are. Truth be told, she was a little selfish and just designed classes around topics and tools SHE wanted to explore and play with. Yep, she's definitely a nerd.
Ms. W is passionate about teaching and preparing kids for the future, a future that is ever changing. How can we prepare for a changing future? Kids need to be problem solvers. They need to be resourceful. They need to try new things and sometimes fail. They need to get back up and try again. They need to make improvements and not settle. Acquiring facts in a classroom isn’t enough anymore. Kids need to be able to apply that knowledge to a real world setting.
What is STEM?
Traditionally, this educational acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, but I've replaced the M with Making. Don't misunderstand. I LOVE math, think it is hugely important, and will integrate it into all my classes, but I'm very interested in the Maker Movement and think that Making better fits my vision of Nerding.
About the Maker Movement
The Maker movement is a shift from being consumers to being producers. It's about being curious, exploring, creating, developing skills, learning, and sharing with others. It's about DIY in everything from coding, engineering, and robotics to traditional skills, like cooking, metal working, arts and crafts.
Embedded to the left is a TED talk by Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE magazine. It's worth a watch.
For further reading: MAKE Magazine and New Yorker Article: Make It