STEAM Resources for Early Education with Lauren Robinson
The Mira & Nexi series offers content for K through 5th-grade
Lauren Robinson is currently an educator in her seventh year of teaching in the greater Houston area. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in science from Texas Tech University, Lauren found a love for teaching during her time being a graduate student. She combined both her loves of teaching and science to become a high school teacher. Lauren is not only an educator but is married with two young children that she is excited to share this journey with.
She is super enthusiastic to grow her reach of educating children on science, math, and technology. She is very active in the education field, and can’t wait to continue to inspire students to love all the fields, that the STEAM programs influence.
You might have heard that Nexus PMG launched the Adventures of Mira and Nexi, our educational comic series. We’re lucky to have Lauren Robinson on our team to help us develop the Mira and Nexi series into a robust educational content resource for students, parents, and teachers. She joined us on the Bigger Than Us podcast to walk us through what it’s going to be like going forward and why we’re making the changes.
STEAM Resources for Early Education
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.
Host Raj Daniels 01:56
Lauren, can you share with the audience what you currently do and why you’re excited to join our team?
Lauren Robinson 02:20
I’m actually a high school teacher down here in Houston, Texas. I’ve been teaching for seven years, I teach science, biology, and anatomy. I love teaching, it’s been so fun for me.
I’m so excited to be a part of the bigger than us team and work with Mira and Nexi to really accentuate STEM and STEAM programs, and really bring education into the fold of growing our children to understand what’s happening currently in our environment, but also how they can help change the future.
Host Raj Daniels 02:58
Why is it essential that children become aware of climate change?
Lauren Robinson 03:02
Well, climate change is something that’s not going away. And I think that people have been kind of hiding the fact that we need to really accentuate that we need to make sure that we’re looking for new resources, tools, ideas, experiments that are going to help keep our environment healthy.
The future is our children. They are going to be the future of making sure that we continue to grow different resources, like wind energy, or that have different tools of medicines, or how we can utilize different bacterias. These things are all going to play a huge role in decreasing pollution and increasing recycling and reusable resources.
So I think it’s so important that these kids know what’s coming and how they can help fix it.
Host Raj Daniels 03:58
You’ve been teaching for seven years. Have you seen a change in interest from your students regarding climate change?
Lauren Robinson 04:08
Working with older students, I see their interest growing in areas like being a lawyer or becoming a doctor or an engineer and trying to change the way the world is so that they can have a bigger impact on our world.
I think that students are realizing more today. And now that social media has gotten so big and they watch all these viral videos on YouTube and TikTok all these different platforms that climate change is happening around them. And I think they’re becoming more cognizant of what that actually means.
I think about when I was in school, and I just don’t remember really being taught about climate change or recycling or things that were going around in our environment. And now it’s what we push out through our state standards, it’s actually a requirement. It’s something we’re wanting to grow our young people to understand. And these students want to know more about it.
Working with older students, I see their interest growing in areas like being a lawyer or becoming a doctor or an engineer and trying to change the way the world is so that they can have a bigger impact on our world.
Host Raj Daniels 05:05
Back to Mira and Nexi. You know, I’m going to be the first to admit, we’re a team of engineers, we’ve kind of been fumbling our way through the comic, creating comics that we think children would be interested in.
Now, bringing you on board, you know, allows us to give some more structure aligned to the Texas education standards. Can you share what your ideas are about how we’re going to change the Mira and Nexi series, and how it’s going to help students?
Lauren Robinson 05:32
One thing that when I spoke to y’all at the beginning of doing this is I thought that education was the way to align it. And like you said, we’re aligning it to the Texas education and knowledge skills. So the TEKS.
But not just looking at Texas. I have been doing research on other states like Florida, and California, New York, and seeing what we’re doing in the United States as a whole and how we’re teaching our students.
By looking at all this, I found that there are certain things that the STEM programs and the state standards are pushing toward, and that is growing their concepts in recycling, and energy and life sciences. So by aligning Mira and Nexi to that, I’m hoping that we can get kids excited, excited about learning this content in a different way, getting them thinking outside of the box, challenging their minds a little bit.
Because in school, you know, maybe they don’t have the ability to always do the extensions. We know it’s hard to meet students needs as teachers. We only have so much time. So this gives kids more extension. We’re gonna have experiments for the kids to do, which is gonna be super awesome. And giving them that hands on how they can do it themselves, and giving them ideas of what they might come up with. Helping them solve problems and think of problems on their own.
So we’re not only aligning it to the state standards, we’re even pushing that mold even farther, by getting them thinking a little bit more outside the box. But making sure we keep those education skills in mind as we build this program, which was really important to not only myself, but to the Bigger Than Us team. We all really felt like this was a great way to approach it.
Host Raj Daniels 07:20
In your research, did you find states that are doing things differently, or stand out more than others?
Lauren Robinson 07:27
I actually did. Texas does a great job, just having skills that our kids need to meet. But I thought it was so interesting, when I looked at California, and Florida, they had actual standards aligned to engineering, which I thought was so interesting, because that’s not where we have gone yet in our state. But it’s something we see is happening around us. And so they had more pushes where they had actual engineering standards built with their basic state standards. So I thought that was a really cool way to approach it.
So when I was looking at that, and I was building out this idea and timeline for Mira and Nexi, and how we can really make sure we’re encapsulating not just Texas, but everybody, I thought how cool would it be if I can incorporate other states and what they are doing, because it’s only going to benefit everybody. It’s going to benefit every student across the world or anybody who wants to be a part of this. And come join us or watch Mira and Nexi in the Bigger Than Us series.
Host Raj Daniels 08:34
I appreciate you sharing that especially mentioning the world. I don’t know if you’re aware or not. But when we received our end-of-year wrap-up from Spotify, we are now being listened to in 39 countries.
Lauren Robinson 08:46
That is absolutely amazing. And I’m so excited to have them hopefully come watch all the awesome things we’re going to be doing with Mira and Nexi, because every student, no matter where they live, every child deserves an opportunity to grow their mind and continue to want to grow knowledge and skills in science and math and art. Because we’re even going to tie art into this and make sure these kids feel like they have something to be a part of. And that’s so important to me and my team.
Host Raj Daniels 09:24
How might this tool also help teachers?
Lauren Robinson 09:28
This is going to be an awesome resource for teachers. As a teacher myself, I think about how it’s so hard sometimes to find things for our students, that it’s not just our voices. So it’s not just listening to their teacher directly. They sometimes need to hear it from somebody else. Because unfortunately, as you probably know, being a parent, you can say something 800 times but when someone else says that they’re like, “Yes, I totally get that.”
Well, that’s my hope is that teachers use this as a resource for direct instruction, supplemental instruction. Could be a great warm-up or just an introduction to a unit. It can be placed in wherever they see it fit. It can be even an extension opportunity where you challenge them. Go watch this and see come back the next day and see what you take from it.
I think teachers are going to have ample opportunity to tie this into their curriculum in everyday use, whether it be maybe once every unit or a few a unit. I think teachers are going to find that this is going to be easily accessible. But also it’s going to be great for kids. And it’s going to be super wonderful for them to use. And they’re going to understand it because we’re going to put it in kid terms.
Host Raj Daniels 10:44
Do teachers currently use tools similar to this for other subjects?
Lauren Robinson 10:48
Oh, absolutely. I can honestly say I use them myself. I use resources on YouTube as well as different applications and websites that incorporate videos because they’re amazing.
I can honestly tell you, for one of my classes, we do an introduction video, every unit that is fully aligned to what they’re learning, and the kids love it. And then the next day, when we start the topic, they feel like they have some sense of understanding, and they know some of the words I’m starting to use. So it helps them grasp the concept better.
It’s something I feel like we’re always searching for and hoping to find better things that align. It’s harder to find videos than I think people realize because you don’t want it to be too high for the students. You don’t want it to go above their head. But you also don’t want it to be so low that it bores them, or they are not getting as much out of it as they could be.
Host Raj Daniels 11:58
How does the administration approach that, if a teacher wants to introduce supplemental material, do they? Are they open to that idea? Or do they try to restrict that?
Lauren Robinson 12:10
I would say most are open. I think that as long as the resource or tool that you are utilizing is aligned and makes sense in the curriculum that we are teaching, they’re excited for us to use tools.
It’s when they are not aligned, or what we would say is they are not fully vetted, or we don’t really make connections with them. That is when I think the administration struggles with us using those tools.
But especially being in this current virtual era. And having so many resources we have available to us right now, because of everything being pushed out online. I mean, some current districts around the country are still doing virtual to home learning. These resources have become more heavily accepted, I think now, and I think they’ve gotten better. And we’ll continue to see that they’re going to be accepted at a higher rate because of this current setting we are in education.
Host Raj Daniels 13:12
How much of your time would you say you spend researching and looking for supplemental educational material?
Lauren Robinson 13:22
Teachers work eight-hour days. But I would say I probably work about 12 hour days realistically looking for tools and resources because I truly value what I put in front of my students as most teachers do. And we don’t try to give them things that are fluff or they’re not going to use.
So to vet and find resources that are going to be solid for the students that are aligned to the standards, that truly help them feel successful when they get to their formative assessments like test or STAAR or PSAT or whatever that may look like. We spend a lot of time making sure that whatever we find fits the needs and the criteria of our state standards, and what we’re doing in class.
So I spend a lot of time really valuing that research. And when you find something that’s amazing, you keep it, you store it and you share it with everybody because you want to help all students.
Host Raj Daniels 14:34
What’s your why what drives you, you know, what makes you want to do this?
Lauren Robinson 14:40
I feel like kids get really frustrated. And they are always looking for something to help them. And if we can supply that and give kids something to be excited about and help them be hands-on and grow their knowledge and skills for life.
I can honestly say I think of my own children. And I want kids no matter what ethnicity, what background, what they are growing up with, no matter where they live to feel like they have something to be a part of and feel like they have something to watch and connect to. I want them to have a resource available to them that they can say I want to learn more about this. So I’m going to go watch a video about experimentation or a video about recycling. If they don’t understand something, I want them to go and have something to use to help them understand it.
I feel like kids get really frustrated. And they are always looking for something to help them. And if we can supply that and give kids something to be excited about and help them be hands-on and grow their knowledge and skills for life. Whether they become a job or career in a STEAM program, that’s not even the big thing for me, I want these kids just to have skills in life that are going to help them no matter what they do, no matter where they live, or what they come from. And that’s super important to me.
So that’s kind of my “why” for teaching, but also my “why” for doing this is to think about my kids and the opportunities I want them to have. I want every kid to feel that way.
Host Raj Daniels 16:01
If my second-grade arithmetic serves me right, you’ve been teaching for seven years, and I know your children are younger than that. So I want to ask even deeper. Why teaching?
Lauren Robinson 16:12
It’s really interesting. When I first went to school and went to university, I didn’t want to be a teacher. That was never on my radar. I actually wanted to be a vet. I loved animals.
And as I grew in university, I truly found a love for helping others. I tutored a lot. I started to do other things. And so all of a sudden, I decided I wanted to be a teacher, as I was getting a master’s in science. It had nothing to do with teaching. So it was kind of bizarre.
My parents were like — it was a little shock for them. And they asked me why. It was the same question. My dad wanted to know. And so did my mom. They were like, “What is driving you to change your course?”
And I said, “Because I want to help people, I want to be the teacher that inspires kids, I want to be the person that kids get excited to come to my classroom.”
I realized I wanted to make a bigger impact. And I feel like you can impact a lot of people when you teach a lot of kids every year.
Not only to learn, but I always tell my students at the beginning of the year, and I know this is gonna sound probably against a lot of things maybe other teachers say is I tell them, if you don’t love this class, for the content, like let’s say you just don’t love science, I want you to come in here and love being in my room because it’s safe. You have someone to talk to, I’m here if you need me. And I know you’ll end up loving science by the end of this because you’ll feel comfortable here and it’ll grow your knowledge. So if you just take one thing away from this course that’s going to help you in your future.
That is all I care about. And I think kids feel that and they know that. And when teachers are there for the right reasons, I think they get the most out of their education. And so I always kind of take away from it teaching biology and anatomy, like this is going to help you when you have kids is going to help you if you know someone who’s sick, this is going to help you if you look outside want to know why the grass is green, or trees are growing.
I said ultimately, you can take something away from this course in life, that’s going to just make you more educated and more understanding and ask questions to the right people. So education for me wasn’t my first course. But it turned that way. Because I realized I wanted to make a bigger impact. And I feel like you can impact a lot of people when you teach a lot of kids every year.
Host Raj Daniels 18:32
Can you outline for the audience, how you envision Mira and Nexi helping children going forward from a curriculum standpoint?
Lauren Robinson 18:41
So Mira and Nexi, the way we’re gonna stagger it is going to be super awesome. And I think that parents and students and teachers, educators, really anybody who accesses this is going to find it super user friendly. Because we’re going to build it out from very, very basic, like what are experiments, history of science, we’re going to start with the components of a experiment, like what are the things you need? How to measure.
And then we’re going to make our way into the content, and then we’re going to do in a way that I feel will flow super nicely. So we’re gonna go into recycling, and it’s just gonna be stepping stones of layers that build on each other.
Because that is the most important part. If you don’t know the basics, you’re not going to be able to do the harder questions. So we’re gonna start basic and build our way up, we’re gonna have these really great sub units within it. So we’re going to focus on like life sciences. And then we’re going to focus on Earth sciences like space and moon, and all of those wonderful components. And then we’re going to go into almost the physics, the motion, the energy, the matter.
And then we’re going to just continue through all the different sections. And within those, we’re going to have all these wonderful podcasts and experiments and opportunities to enhance the kids’ knowledge in short segments. So it’s not going to be overwhelming for them either, because it’s going to be little snips at a time.
Host Raj Daniels 20:15
Is there a target age range we’re going to start with?
Lauren Robinson 20:18
We’re going to be working with the elementary age. So from kindergarten to fifth grade is our target audience right now. In the future, we’ll see what happens. But currently, we’re focusing on kindergarten to fifth grade. That doesn’t mean the sixth, seventh and eighth graders can’t go look at this, because it’s still really relevant. And it’s still going to be amazing. But that’s definitely our target audience at this time.
Host Raj Daniels 20:43
And when do you think we’ll be able to roll out our first segment?
Lauren Robinson 20:48
We’re hoping February. We’re really hoping to have our first one out in February. That’s our goal. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can do this, I believe that we can. If not no later than March. It’s gonna happen this year, no matter what.
Host Raj Daniels 21:25
Magic wand, and I’d just like to hear your imagination. 2030 — what does Mira and Nexi look like for you?
Lauren Robinson 21:33
Mira and Nexi in 2030 is going to be an animated video series that students are going to watch actually what looks like Mira and Nexi on the screen. And I could be teaching in the background, why Mira and Nexi are aiding in the experiments are aiding in the content that’s being put out there. They’re going to be our helpers.
It’s going to have worksheets and extension activities and a coloring book. It’s going to have all these different layers, that’s going to continue growing education so that teachers are going to have super amounts of resources, but so are parents.
Even if you’re at home and just want to give your kids extra, you’re going to have the ability to do that for them, because we’re going to have all these wonderful guided notes and worksheets and extension questions, experiments, animated videos, cute little cartoons. I think in 2030 Mira and Nexi is going to look that way. I’m hoping it happens sooner.
Honestly, I think it’s going to be an awesome program. I’m even really excited about the coloring book that we’re going to make that goes with it for our super artistic kids.
Host Raj Daniels 22:56
If there are parents out there listening that want to support their children on their journey, or are interested in how they can help their children, what’s you know, perhaps one or two pieces of advice you can give to parents?
Lauren Robinson 23:07
So the first piece of advice I’d give to parents is to continue to question and feed their minds at home and have them take out their work and talk about what they’re doing. Maybe help them find a video if they’re telling you they’re having a hard time understanding a concept. Going and looking for one or, listening to different podcasts or extending their minds. That’s one thing is, continue to push them to think outside the box.
The second thing I would say is to ask your teachers for help if you need it. If you’re not sure how to help them. We have tools in our bags. We have lots of things. We have teams that help us. We are here for you. Reach out to people, we are more than willing to help you help your kids. And I think that’s the biggest thing is a lot of people are scared to ask for help. Well, don’t be. You can reach out to teachers, you can reach out to different medical professionals. I do. I have reached out to different people to ask them for resources to help my teaching.
So I think that’s one fear that parents might have is they don’t want to reach out and ask for help. And I promise you there will be people to help you if you do.
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