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It’s All About Magnetism

Written by Alejandra Jiménez Marván
    Tuesday, 18 December 2012
It’s All About Magnetism

No matter how we dropped it on the cup of water, the needle kept pointing north. “Isn’t it awesome? Would you have imagined that we would be able to create a handmade compass by magnetizing a simple sewing needle?” I needed no other evaluation but the students’ amazed faces to realize that our class was pointing in the right direction, too.

Had I not learned about electricity and magnetism in a fun and interactive way as a child, I would not have been so successful with that class.

I remember when, as a teenager in Mexico, I first learned how to design my own compass with the scouts. I never knew where that compass would take me, but I have no doubt it pointed in the right direction. After being an environmental educator at the Menomonee Valley Branch for four months now, and I feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

Be it electricity and magnetism, the water cycle, identifying insects, or describing habitats in the Menomonee Valley, I believe that we, as environmental educators at the Urban Ecology Center, give the most of ourselves to make science transcend textbooks. We need to help students realize that the nature they read about is, as a matter of fact, around the corner. This job requires not only knowledge but also immense sensibility toward nature. I look back and feel thankful to my family, friends, scouts and teachers, who made me create a positive attitude and love for Mother Earth since I was a child.

Because I know how important it was for me that my mentors helped me have fun outside, it’s important to me as a teacher to accomplish our teaching goals by helping students enjoy every single activity. Since teaching is not only about knowledge, but also about sensibility, our motivation takes over the reins to make students develop a positive attitude toward the Valley. We teach by playing games, by singing songs, by doing fun experiments, puppet shows, handcrafts, and plenty of hands-on activities. The point of helping students make that compass, apart from teaching magnetism, is to make them feel somehow attracted to the Valley. Thus, we hope our students respond to the Urban Ecology “magnetic field” so that they themselves impart their environmental “magnetic forces” to their friends and family.  

Photo Credit: Photo by Barbara J. Miner
Alejandra Jiménez Marván

Alejandra Jiménez Marván

Alejandra Jiménez Marván was born in Cuernavaca, México. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos and her Master’s Degree in Education while teaching Spanish at Carthage College in Kenosha. Her master’s thesis dealt with the creation and implementation of an Environmental Education curriculum for the “Sustainable and Unsustainable Development of Rural Guatemala” program. Alejandra is an Environmental Educator at the Menomonee Valley branch where she is able to combine the things she loves most in life: nature, teaching, languages, and getting involved with the community.

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