It’s hard to tell who enjoys the Pitsco STEM lab more –
the teacher or the students – at West Craven Middle School
in New Bern, N.C. One thing is for sure, though, they all
appreciate what the lab offers.
John Scarfpin brings passion and a deep knowledge of
math, science, and technology (teaching certification and
work experience in all three areas) to the classroom every
day. Consequently, his students have developed a curiosity
and a desire to learn about physics, forensics, robotics,
electricity, engineering, and just about everything else set
up at the workstations.
It’s a classic case of “passion begets passion.”
“I do enjoy going through the Modules myself because
this is a lot of the stuff I’ve done in the past,” Scarfpin
said. “Prior to becoming a teacher, I started out as a
computer engineering major, so a lot of this stuff was
right up my alley anyway.”
Scarfpin’s alley has had many twists and turns. He’s
worked in retail, construction, electronics, and a variety of
other areas. Since becoming a teacher, he’s gotten his students
involved in robotics, NASA activities, Science Olympiad, and
even environmental science and sustainable business practices
that stem from his involvement last summer in a Fulbright
Teacher Exchange Program in Japan.
Robotics is his No. 1 passion, though, and he’s already
planting that seed among sixth graders in the lab, who
sometimes stay after school an hour or two to create and
play with robots.
“I worked with the LEGO® NXT robots for the last three
years at Tucker Creek Middle School,” Scarfpin said. “What
I’m doing here with the sixth graders is incorporating what I
did with my club. I’m actually using it as a teaching method.”
The Pitsco Robots Module is a great introduction to the
functions and programming potential of robots. “I’m very
impressed with that Module. What it has them learn in
seven short sessions is very impressive.”
His students’ enthusiasm for the activities virtually
ensures their success. After all, passion begets passion.