Meet Mr. Goodman-Lucker
Lower School engineering specialist, Mr. Kerrick Goodman-Lucker, blends his passion for engineering with teaching, infusing our Lower School curriculum with a blend of real-world, hands-on experiences.
Can you speak a bit about your background and what led you to become interested in science and engineering?
I come from a family of public school teachers. My father taught science, and he always had me in the lab. My mother is a self-taught tinkerer who learned how to build and repair computers and manage networks, and now manages technology in a school where my sister also teaches science. I always felt that learning depended on having the freedom to follow passions and try things out in the real world. That led me to pursue a Masters in Museum Education, where I studied how free-choice learning experiences can catalyze people’s personal and intellectual growth in a different way than in the typical classroom setting. I continue to feel it is vitally important that students choose their own direction, try things for themselves, and design their own learning experiences as much as possible, but now I get to bring the possibilities of free-choice learning into the classroom experience.
So, what led you to Quarry Lane? How would you describe your time here at Quarry Lane so far?
I came to Quarry Lane having recently concluded an amazing project working with the Exploratorium. I worked with a small team to launch Helix, a community science center in Los Altos, where I helped to train teachers in using hands on design and inquiry methods to empower their students to engage in real science in the classroom. I enjoyed my work very much--It’s my vision of paradise to be given a grant to start a new science museum and a mandate to just make it as cool as we could--but I found what I was missing was the chance to watch students grow over time.
And how would you describe your experience here at Quarry Lane thus far?
I feel very lucky to be a part of Quarry Lane School’s very special community. Students, faculty, and administration really work together here to create a unique learning experience.
I insist on establishing a growth mindset in my class - I ban the word 'can't' unless it's followed by '...yet'. I really strongly focus on developing social and emotional skills through hands-on, collaborative engineering projects.”
What is it about teaching—engineering, in particular— that you find the most rewarding or inspiring?
Teaching engineering inspires me because I believe everyone benefits from learning how to think about design and construction of things in the real world. It hones project management and problem solving skills, and it helps us be more effective at everything they do. Not all of my students will be engineers when they grow up, but they will all use these design thinking and problem solving skills for the rest of their lives.
How would you describe your philosophy or approach to teaching engineering?
I believe elementary school students are capable of more than we think they are. I expect miracles from them, and I love when they rise to the challenge as well as when they make mistakes trying. Mistakes are so important in my class. I teach all my students that mistakes are wonderful things to feel curious about and to investigate and learn from. I insist on establishing a growth mindset in my class--I ban the word “can’t” unless it’s followed by “...yet.” I really strongly focus on developing social and emotional skills through hands-on, collaborative engineering projects.
What has been one of your favorite lessons or projects that you’ve done this year so far and why?
With my fifth graders, I embarked on a Whole Class Design project that placed them in the role of a team of consultants designing a plan for a renewable energy community. They had to learn things like how many megawatts of power a wind turbine could produce and how much it cost to build a standard apartment building. They had to think about roads and schools. Most importantly, they had to run their own meetings, stick to a timeline, and hold each other responsible for producing deliverables they would all feel proud of at the end of the project.
And finally, what do you hope that your students will have taken away from your class this year?
I hope they know that they can design, build, and modify solutions to their own real world problems. I hope they are excited about making interesting things, whether it’s a game in Scratch or a robot made of soda cans or a hat that lights your way in the dark or a design for a better community park.
One of the key reasons for Quarry Lane’s shift to a subject specialization teaching model in our Lower School was to elevate the level of teaching in our classrooms and create a teaching environment where our faculty members can let their inspiration soar and dive deep into subjects that they are passionate about. Mr. Goodman-Lucker, along with his passion for teaching and engineering, is a prime example of the model’s success.