Episode 134 – Jesus Huerta

Meet Jesus Huerta

JESUS HUERTA is an elementary school teacher at Kennedy Gardens Elementary School in El Centro, California. He’s also an instructor for the Krause Center for Innovation, a 3D print enthusiast, a futurist, and a believer that technology is for everyone.

Competing During Uncertainty

About a year before our interview, Jesus was a finalist for the Leroy Finkel Fellowship, an award given annually to a teacher who presents “an innovative technology-enhanced curriculum project that is standards-aligned, replicable, relevant … and fun.”

Jesus had entered the contest and had made it to the short list, but he was laid off by his school just days before he was expected to present. Despite the professional uncertainty, Jesus gave everything he had to the presentation and won the award based on the 3D printing work his students were doing to create prosthetics (see a full description of the project with videos). As gratifying as it was to be recognized in the contest, it was equally satisfying to be given another teaching position shortly afterward.

The Evolution of 3D Printing and Learning

Jesus has been teaching for six years, and he’s been 3D printing the entire time. From classrooms to conferences, he carried his printer around with him wherever he went in his first years.

One way that 3D printing has really changed in the period since, Jesus says, is that the financial barriers to entry have come way down: printers and filament have both fallen a lot in price. Software has also improved and diversified and the 3D printing community has grown over these years as well.

It’s an exciting space, because 3D printing just keeps moving forward. Jesus shares a number of ways (other than prosthetics) that 3D printing technology is being used to provide medical solutions and improve quality of life around the world. On top of all the other competencies and skills that students build as they learn to design and print in 3D, the list of real-world applications only seems to grow.

Board Games, the Design Process, and Entrepreneurship

Another project that has really energized Jesus and his 5th graders is a board game project. The project combines the best of entrepreneurship, the design process, collaboration, and presentation skills. Working in partners or small groups, students begin by drawing a board game design, followed by a cardboard prototype. Further iterations follow.

Jesus describes a very authentic learning experience that occurred when one 5th grader forgot to bring her group’s prototype into class for her group’s pitch. Yes, there was some distress and some tears in that instance, but after thoughtful debriefing and reflection, he knows the real life lessons learned will last a lifetime. By project end, Jesus is always impressed by what his students manage to come up with, saying he would likely purchase them for his own family if they were commercially available.

Increased Access to the Joys of STEAM Learning

Something that Jesus has wanted to do outside of his classroom for some time is offer evening classes that align with his core passions: 3D printing, robotics, the design process, engineering, game design, coding, drones, and anything else related to STEAM.

In particular, he wants to create opportunities for kids who can’t access this kind of learning in their schools, districts, or towns. He’s built a partnership with an LGBTQ center to share space, and he’s proud to support diversity and equity for all learners by doing so.

Learning is for everyone,” Jesus says. A kid’s gender, culture, language, religion, or orientation shouldn’t be limiting factors – and that’s something that Jesus has always been passionate about. Historically speaking, STEAM learning has tended to include more boys than girls, and evening that playing field is another part of his mission. He’s also looking at ways to include adults and mature learners, too.

Personal Passions: Creating with Wood and Playing the Violin

One of the areas of learning that Jesus recalls fondly from his childhood is drawing. In recent years, he’s revisited this passion through woodburning and carving. He’s also passionate about the sounds of the violin, and it’s been a joy to practice an instrument he’s always appreciated but never played. Jesus brings these passions into his classroom, too, using applications like Google Quick Draw, Google Music, and SoundTrap to helps students create a wide variety of digital art and media pieces.

A Productivity Tool: Wunderlist

Jesus loves using the Wunderlist app to track to-do items and track his progress, and the gamer in him enjoys the satisfying ding the app makes every time he checks off another task.

Voices and Resources That Spark His Thinking and Ignite His Practice

When it comes to a Twitter follow recommendation, Jesus doesn’t waste any time. “Paul Gordon does even more than I do,” Jesus says. One of Paul’s core passions is esports, but he also does 3D printing, laser cutting, design thinking, and more. He’s an advocate of risk-taking and a culture of yes, and he’s been a great education partner. Follow Paul @TeachTheTech.

One edtech tool that has really captured his imagination is the Oculus Quest, an all-in-one VR set. Users no longer need controllers – the set will now recognize user hands. His kids have played around with an Oculus app called Virtuoso that allows them to play piano in VR, and it’s blowing their minds. Other apps, like TiltBrush or Sculptor VR, allow users to paint and sculpt in VR as well.

For a book pick, Jesus points to Designed to Learn: Using Design Thinking to Bring Purpose and Passion to the Classroom by Lindsay Portnoy, a PhD and master of design thinking. Her book confirms a lot of what Jesus believes about STEAM education, and it’s opening his eyes to more possibilities. Lindsay also hosts the weekly #DesignedToLearn Twitter that Jesus says is well worth the time. Follow Lindsay @LPortnoy.

Because his wife works in the criminal justice system, Jesus says they’re both enjoying a podcast called Crime Junkie. The series is so good that occasionally Jesus gets a few episodes ahead of her, and then he’s got some explaining to do! Follow this podcast on Twitter @CrimeJunkiePod.

Over on YouTube, Jesus points to the Uncle Jessy channel as a great source for 3D printers, techniques, and projects. Jesus appreciates how he follows up review videos with subsequent videos that clarify and update previous evaluations. Follow the creator on Twitter @UncleJessy4Real.

On Netflix, Jesus and his family are enjoying NCIS. They’ve been enjoying it so much that he’s actually a little sad that he’s been missing it for the last 15 years.

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Song Track Credits

  • Sunrise Drive by South London Hifi*
  • Anthem by The Grand Affair*
  • Coupe by The Grand Affair
  • Species by Diamond Ortiz
  • *tracks courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library

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Episode 48 – Craig Kemp

48 - Craig Kemp.png

CRAIG KEMP is a head of Digital Learning and Innovation, teacher of teachers, blogger, workshop facilitator, and speaker. Although he hails from New Zealand and now calls Singapore home, Craig is truly a global force for innovation in education.

In our conversation, recalls the challenge of rebuilding a school community after the tragic loss of a student. He describes how his current role constantly requires him to look, investigate, and use technology in new ways that improve learning. He tells us why team sports represent the perfect mix of fitness, play, and collaboration … and why he always plays to win! Craig also shares great recommendations in books, Twitter, YouTube, and more.

Follow Craig online here:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 1:09 – Craig describes his current context in education. Originally from New Zealand, he’s taught in Singapore for six years at The Stamford American International School. As the head of Digital Learning and Innovation, Craig heads a team of Digital Lead Learners. Calling his role a dream job, he enjoys helping educators in his local context and around the globe.
  • 2:32 – Craig recalls the time his education community suffered the tragic loss of a student. During that time it became critically important for the community to rally around positive memories and keep moving forward, striving to be better as a way of honoring that student’s memory.
  • 4:12 – When it comes to why he’s passionate about education today, Craig points to the constant change. His role requires him to look, investigate, and use technology in ways that help kids learn. Lately he’s been looking at how AR (augmented reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) can impact the how and why of learning.
  • 6:29 – Outside of the classroom, Craig is passionate about team sports like cricket, volleyball, and sometimes basketball. He points out that team sports offer the perfect mix of fitness, play, and collaboration with other people.
  • 7:34 – Craig’s got a lot on the go, and one way he manages it all is by utilizing his calendar effectively. If it’s not in the calendar, it doesn’t happen! He also has very high standards: he expects everything to be done well and perhaps better than it’s ever been done before. He makes stuff happen partly by investing in himself and others on his team – with the ultimate goal of making a positive impact on student learning.
  • 8:55 – Craig’s top Twitter recommendation is @GCouros. George is a non-stop source of amazing inspiration who helps educators to rethink what is possible in education.
  • 9:44 – Edtech is Craig’s wheelhouse, so you know these two picks are solid. The first is FlipGrid (follow @FlipGrid on Twitter), and the second is Empatico (follow @EmpaticoOrg). FlipGrid is a secure platform that allows students to represent their learning using video, and it’s now completely free. Empatico is a new start-up that seeks to connect learners and classrooms around the globe. It promises to remain entirely free as well, so make sure to check out both of these tools.
  • 12:53 – Confessing to a bit of a man crush on George Couros, Craig’s book recommendation is The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity.
  • 14:32 – For the commuter, Craig’s podcast pick is non-educational but definitely inspiring. Check out Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman. Follow the podcast on Twitter (@MastersofScale) to learn more.
  • 15:19 – If you’re looking for a good YouTube channel to subscribe to, take a look at Movie Reviews for Kids by @ATorrens84.
  • 16:12 – Although he’s not a Netflixer, Craig will occasionally kick back with an old-school rerun. One of his all-time faves is Anchorman featuring the legendary Will Ferrell.
  • 16:59 – Craig says good night from Singapore, and shares the best ways for us to follow him online. See above for the details and links!

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Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

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