Creative teaching from plate tectonics to plant pollinators

The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.

Christine Fernandes, Grier School, Tyrone PA

Christine Fernandes began as a horticulture major at Pennsylvania State University, but transferred to agricultural education so she could become a teacher. She absolutely loves her career choice.

Teacher Ambassador Christine Fernandes

She learned about the Concord Consortium through a listserv from her alma mater. We’re collaborating with Penn State on our GEODE project to develop new geodynamic plate tectonic modeling software for middle school students. The software is designed to allow students to observe and describe the formation of surface geologic features in terms of plate interactions. Christine explains, “It really clicked for the students, seeing what was happening below the ground in relation to the size and magnitude of the earthquakes along the western coast of South America.”

Using the GEODE curriculum also helped Christine let her students explore and research on their own instead of her lecturing so much. She believes teachers need opportunities to attend more workshops where other educators both model how to do creative things in their classrooms as well as provide more content knowledge, so they feel confident in trying them. Christine loves learning new things and just participated in another workshop with Penn State about plant pollinators, which she’s excited to try.

Christine keeps a notebook in her desk of classroom stories she wants to remember, but what she likes best is when some of her first students (from her days of teaching fifth grade science) come back to show her the fun things they’re doing with their own small children. She delights in these visits, and exclaims, “They’re doing things that I taught them how to do!”

She was married in Hawaii, and has always wanted to go back. Though she didn’t make it quite that far, Christine and her best friend from college recently went to Texas, where they stayed in a treehouse hotel, then traveled to Tennessee to see the total solar eclipse.

One of Christine’s many hobbies is astrophotography; she just bought a new professional grade camera to take pictures of the night sky. But that’s not her only creative outlet. She teaches archery, too. Christine has her eyes on the target: encouraging her students to investigate this amazing world on their own.

Favorite ice cream: Peach