Teaching STEM #4Real

S2 E1: 5E Lesson: Water in Africa Using STEM + Community

Teaching STEM #4Real podcast season 2 episode 1
Welcome to the first episode of season 2 of Teaching STEM #4Real! We are thrilled to be kicking off a new season with Jacqueline Lafitte and Barbara Nicewonger. Jacqueline has been an educator since 1992 and instructs in STEM and STEAM, which adds arts to the curriculum. She emphasizes water conservation and water systems infrastructure in her lesson plans. In spring 2019, she received visions from God where she saw water wells being dug and where God was answering prayers of people who had been praying for clean water. Jacqueline immediately started praying and sharing her dream. With gratefulness, she accepted God’s plan for her. God then connected her with Paulette Nonga who founded the non-profit organization, Sayap Africa (sayap means “bless”). She has partnered with Sayap Africa and is now developing STEAM lessons with her own students by studying the systems of real world problems. Prayerfully, this curriculum will be launched in future after-school programs for the youth in Africa. Jacqueline has been recognized as a Youth Mentor in “Marquis Who’sWho in America 2020” 73rd Edition Expanded Biographies, page 2129. In 2021, she was recognized by Marquis Who’sWho as a “Top Educator”.

Barbara worked in high-tech for nearly 25 years at Intel Corporation. After beginning her career as an engineering project analyst, she explored various analyst roles and finally landed in sales and marketing. There, her job included account management, crisis management, and program management for sales training events and strategies. In 2013, Barbara was honored to serve with Intel’s Education Service Corps in Kenya, setting up computer labs and training school teachers on computers to enable more students to learn English and pass national entrance exams required to attend school. This led to two other similar projects in Africa. In 2014, Barbara joined a team of high tech volunteers led by the non-profit, Team4Tech, in setting up a shipping container computer lab in a township outside of Cape Town, South Africa. There she helped train tutors on how to use computers, and to develop computer-based curriculum for after-school STEM tutoring. In 2015, Barbara returned to Kenya with Team4Tech to train teachers and help set up an after school STEM training program. Today, in addition to volunteering at her local church, elementary school and in the cancer community, Barbara is an active volunteer with Sayap Africa, gratefully laboring with Paulette Nonga and Jacqueline to define and build a sustainable education strategy and plan.

In this episode, we’re chatting about Jacqueline’s journey as an educator, Barbara’s involvement in Jacqueline's project to develop lessons that create empathy for students who need access to clean water, and the way in which God directed Jacqueline to do this work. We’ll also talk about how Jacqueline created empathy within her lessons, how she made the experience real for students, and how she finds the resources that level up her lessons. Last but not least, Jacqueline will tell us about the accordion book she created with her students, she’ll share her advice for creating culturally responsive lessons, and so much more. Keep listening to hear more from Jacqueline and Barbara!

Teaching STEM #4Real is a podcast dedicated to 4 real conversations on educational equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education hosted by Dr. Leena Bakshi. If you’re interested in exploring what anti-racism and socially just instruction look like in our classrooms, schools, and beyond, you are in the right place. Dr. Bakshi is also the founder of the non-profit, STEM4Real. Please visit our website for information on how to partner with us. Thank you for helping us make STEM for real.

Learn more about how we promote student equity and social justice in STEM4Real