Connecting Cultures Through STEM

The Student Travel Empowers Minds series highlights educators who travel abroad and dedicate their careers to bridging the gap between their classrooms and the world in which their students live in. Our hope is to inspire students and other educators to expand their mindset on having a global education and understanding the benefits of travel.

This month, meet David Lockett!

David is a middle school Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) teacher at Bok Academy, a charter school in Lake Wales, Florida. He comes from an education and military family. Growing up, education was a top priority for him while extracurricular activities, church, and community events were strongly emphasized as well. At a young age, David had a passion for all things STEM related. “I was very fortunate early on to have dedicated teachers, professors, and parents that provided a pathway for learning that encouraged taking chances, learning from mistakes, and becoming involved”, says David. Throughout his career as an educator, he has accumulated leadership awards from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, a Congressional STEM accommodation from United States Senator Scott DesJarlais M.D. of Tennessee, as well as many other accolades.

David’s hobbies, which include amateur astronomy, geocaching, and extreme biotechnology sampling, have allowed him to visit San Pedro de Atacama, Chile and soon Lagos, Nigeria. When asked for his most memorable abroad experience, David replied that “Each visit is a rewarding experience. Interacting with other cultures, learning new languages, sampling regional cuisines is always a plus.” However, he did recall that one time in Chile, “...seeing the red spot on Jupiter from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Coquimbo Region of northern Chile, viewing Omega Centauri, and the Magellanic Cloud in the Atacama Desert.” David summarized these experiences in two words: “quite unique”.

What we found to be most interesting about David was his ability to connect his students to students at Likan-Antay C-30 High School in Chile through STEM. The partnership between the two classrooms focuses on STEM “maker projects” and astronomy outreach. This is an extension of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program project. David highlights that his “students are currently benefiting through the additional use of radio astronomy projects, upcoming biotechnology sampling, and coding lessons geared for bilingual students.” He believes in sharing these experiences in the classroom with fellow teachers to expand their “base of learning”. This year his students will focus on NSF Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy (IDATA) projects, which include: computer science adaptive tools for Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) students, simulation based learning apps, and gamification across the curriculum. David will place a strong emphasis on how important these projects are for the world that his students live in.

Students worked on augmented reality 3D NASA JPL projects, and Google Making + Science projects.

Q & A

Why is it important for students to be exposed to other cultures and the idea of global travel?
“Exponentially, the world our students live in today is more cultural than ever imagined. It will continue to be the norm that our youth will be challenged to interact with peers who come from different cultures quite different from their own.”

What will a comprehensive cross-cultural and cross-curricular education look like in ten years?
“It looks technology driven with design driven and computation based thinking solutions. The virtual exchanges will sustain technology, greater topics of study, and promote direct relationships.”

What is one thing that you want to leave students with as it relates to bridging the gap between classroom learnings and the world that they live in?
“Focus on the 4 C's-collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Relevancy has a tremendous potential to opening new doors.”

What is one thing that you want to leave educators with as it relates to developing the future global leaders of tomorrow?
”Together we can create an environment that enables educators from all backgrounds and perspectives to grow academically and socially. Leaders of tomorrow hold the keys to opening new doors to computational thinking and project based learning.”

What is one thing that you want to leave parents with as it relates to assisting their children in pursuing a well-rounded global education?
”Actively take part in your child's education. Communicate ideas and nurture their interests with positive safe experiences.”

David Lockett, the WellTraveled team appreciates your dedication to our youth. We hope you continue to push the boundaries on what it means to get a global education!

If you know an educator who you would like to be featured in the next Student Travel Empowers Minds series, let us know. We would love to hear from you!


Stay Educated. Stay Empowered. Stay WellTraveled.

P.S. All Bok Academy students will take part in the solar eclipse on August 21. They will observe sunspots, solar flares, and time the length of the eclipse. Follow them on Twitter @BokSTEM.

If you'd like more information about David's work or would like to connect with him on a project, please contact him at