Bringing real-world activities into the classroom engages students and gives educators new ways to connect with them. This philosophy not only directs MIE Expert Julia Janosikova’s teaching approach, it helped her discover her calling.
“When I was a teenager, I volunteered in the Slovak (Boy) Scout organization, and there I worked with young children,” Janosikova explains. “This affected my career choice and made me see teaching more as a mission and hobby than as a job.”
“In the past, children were playing together with a ball. Today, they play with smartphones. We need to find a way to communicate with them in their language.”
Physics, Mathematics and Informatics Teacher
Zakladna Skola, Zahoracka
That experience also shaped the way she shares new activities with her students.
“Connecting formal and informal education was introduced to me when I was working in the Slovak Scout organization, and from there I brought it to my teaching,” Janosikova says. “I’m trying to show pupils that physics are around us in everyday life. When they can see information from lessons in their life, it makes lessons more lively and understandable.”
These days, Janosikova uses STEM activities, empowered by technology, to spark both logical thinking and reinforce manual skills in her students.
“At our primary school, we use simple electronic sets consisting of batteries, copper sticky tapes and LEDs,” she tells us. “This year, we plan to introduce soldering of electric circuits to create our own simple battery. We also plan to create a rocket by combining vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. Students record the start of the rocket and after watching it in slow motion, they analyze flight height and trajectory.”
STEM activities also help Janosikova communicate with her students, at a time where making those connections seems especially challenging.
“In the past, children were playing together with a ball,” she says. “Today, they play with smartphones. We need to find a way to communicate with them in their language. This is where we can use STEM activities which connect manual skills (which were dominant for our parents – and the students’ grandparents) and technologies (well known by our students). The challenge for teachers is to connect these two areas to work for both.”
About Julia Janosikova
- Educational background: Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, faculty of mechanical engineering; Faculty Mathematics, physics and informatics of the Comenius University of Bratislava; University of Constantine the Philosopher, Nitra
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Sway, Teams
- Website I check every day: NASA
- Favorite childhood memory: Swimming in the ocean.
- Favorite book: Papillion by Henri Charriere
- Best advice you have ever received: Keep your mind always open to accept new ideas, new thoughts that come from all directions. Motto: keep your thoughts flying.