Evan Denmark, Massachusetts native, knew he wanted to experience something different over IAP: to sample a new culture, to learn about Middle Eastern society, to use hands-on teaching methodologies to get high school students excited about STEM—and maybe go on a bit of an adventure. He found all of this and more in the MISTI MIT-Arab World’s Global Teaching Lab pilot. Alongside two teammates, Evan taught for one month at King’s Academy, a secondary school in Madaba, Jordan.
“Let’s Do It, Let’s Learn”
Upon arrival, Evan observed and studied how physics was taught at King’s Academy. After planning lessons, he was given two freshman physics classes to lead. Wanting to incorporate more of MIT’s hands-on learning style into the classroom, Evan integrated real-life examples into his lessons to delve deeper into why physics matters. Evan explains that he wanted to “think like a 9th grader” to get students truly excited and engaged. Some of the in-class experiments included setting up stations that demonstrated each type of energy (e.g. pulling elastics to demonstrated elastic energy into something students could visually see, or dropping wooden blocks from various heights to demonstrate potential energy.)
Evan and his teammates also shared about their MIT projects and studies, getting the Jordanian students excited for what a future in STEM could look like, and preparing students for potential international university experiences.
Evan remarked on the community-oriented vibe at King’s Academy, where students eat meals together, and a strong comradery can be felt between students and teachers. Outside of his work in the classroom, Evan listed his highlights: experiencing famous Jordanian hospitality from the teachers and administrators; viewing the amazing sites like the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, Amman, and Wadi Rum; and sampling delicious Middle Eastern cuisine.
When asked if he would return to the region, Evan gave an unequivocal yes—that he would definitely go back to Jordan, and would want to explore the Middle Eastern region further. He remarked “I felt very welcome wherever I went, whether I tried to speak Arabic…people obviously knew I was a foreigner, but if anything they will welcome you. Arabic hospitality is real!”