Ecker Hill teacher engineers his passions
Brad Gannon was thrown right into the fire.
The first-year teacher took over Ecker Hill Middle School’s technology and engineering class four weeks into the school year. Ever since, he’s been working long hours to try to "stay two steps ahead of the students, which is easier said than done."
But for Gannon, keeping pace has been a labor of love. Being in a classroom where he gets to teach hands-on lessons is the fruition of a dream he’s held since he was a teenager.
"I guess wanting to be a teacher started for me in high school," he said. "I participated in a career program for education, and I knew I wanted to be a teacher or work with kids. I always enjoyed learning. I’m just fascinated by problem solving and creating things and designing things and building things."
How Gannon came to develop those passions is a bit of a mystery. It wasn’t a trait passed down from his parents — neither found much enjoyment in working with their hands to create things, he said — but nonetheless it always came naturally to him.
"I was always one to be tinkering with things," he said. "I always just enjoyed it — woodworking, working with motors, robotics."
Now, Gannon gets to tinker nearly every day, along with his classroom full of students. Some of his favorite projects he has assigned so far include building CO2-powered cars out of wood and designing motors for speedboats using rubber bands, baking soda and vinegar or water.
He said he enjoys watching students wrestle with the design process and build things out of scrap materials. Often times, they think of solutions he never would have.
"I was surprised by when they made multiple motors for the speedboats," said Gannon, who moved to Utah about five years ago and spent last year as a technology coach at Trailside Elementary School. "I was very narrow-minded by thinking of one specific motor, but some students were using a rubber band and also trying to use the baking soda and vinegar."
As much as he loves working with his hands, Gannon has designs on moving into a different realm of education as his career continues. He would like to explore computer science and be on the forefront of the next technological advances that could revolutionize education.
"I think that’s the way education is going, especially with our rural areas," said Gannon, who is trying to get a teaching endorsement this year in computer science. "I’m interested in different online learning platforms and figuring out how to create virtual classrooms where students are actually participating in something, not just filling out quizzes online."