Working with the weefolk

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.

Kathleen Reynolds, Elizabeth G. Lyons Elementary School, Randolph, MA

Kathleen Reynolds found her way to teaching after earning a bachelor’s degree in art history and then spending 20 years at home raising her children. When it came time to think about what to do next, she fondly remembered teaching nature lessons and maple sugaring at The Children’s Museum in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and volunteering at an inner city day camp for five- and six-year-olds during college. “Becoming an early childhood educator seemed to be a good fit for me.” She’s been teaching kindergarten ever since—19 years.

Teacher Ambassador Kathleen Reynolds

A few years ago, she helped pilot test one of our programs that explores the ability of young children to learn about the physical science concepts of matter and its changes. Sensing Science through Modeling Matter uses playful, interactive, animated stories with children as young as six to explore, of all things, particle physics. Kathleen’s students loved experimenting with our online app called the Thermonator, co-created with FableVision, that helps children understand states of matter and state change by allowing them to control the speed, attraction, bounce, and gravity of particles. “It was colorful and there were many factors they could control to watch how the particles react,” Kathleen observed.

She also used the Flying Zippies and The Land of Bump, an interactive online story that uses “Red Hot” and “Cool Blue” characters to demonstrate how particles transfer heat by bumping into each other. Two of her students, one who happened to be wearing red and the other blue, watched the story and began gently bumping into each other at different speeds to demonstrate the principle. They were thinking outside the box, she says. “It’s okay to try a different way as long as you can explain your thinking.”

Given 19 years teaching kindergarteners, it’s not surprising that she has a fascination with fairies, elves, brownies, and other “weefolk.” She’s collected over a thousand books about them. “It intrigues me that fairies have been a part of literature and folklore throughout history, and yet has anyone seen them?” she quips. “Sometimes you believe in things you can’t see … like particles.”

Favorite ice cream: Coffee