Susan Vandall

I’ve gotten to chat with Susan only a few times as we Skype with her school classroom but what I’ve noticed is that she is so full of the excitement for teaching. She really wants the kids to see how cool it is to learn about science. I remember one Skype session the kids asked why I was so passionate. I told them it was because of the great Jacques Cousteau – assuming they’d know who he was. They said they didn’t know who that was, but that I was their inspiration. OMG. That made a big impact on me and made me realize how important it was that I represent the sciences well.


Susan is not a teacher that has gone off to create a small empire in the world of media creation. I chose her because she represents a teacher that is using media, using stuff like what we do, to help inspire her students. I wish all teachers were able to do what she does. I wanted to ask her a few questions about why she loves doing it. It might seem like I chose her to help promote what we’re doing here at Untamed Science. That’s not the case – but it does make me really happy that the students have found some inspiration in our videos!

What do you teach, how long, and where.

I’ve taught 5th grade Social Studies and Science, at Shady Spring Elementary, Shady Spring , WV for 21 years.


Fill us in on how you’re using technology/media to increase learning?

Our county supplies every student with an I-Pad. We have endless opportunities to use technology. I use technology constantly in my classroom.

Science; I use the Numbers App and before we do an experiment we set the scientific method up on a page so while we are experimenting we can record data, take pictures and draw conclusions. Plant identification is very cool because we have an app that identifies the type of tree and fruit just by taking a picture. We make videos to explain things, The Bill of Rights through acting out the bills and recording. Not to mention the endless access to Untamed Science videos that the students love for a wealth of knowledge that is fun and interesting.

This year we are getting Minecraft, we plan to create biomes so the students can collaborate and survive in their biomes. The students are also able to send their assignments for grading and I can return the grades. Our county has just purchased Microsoft Office for all students, here we can store endless videos that the students can have access to without being exposed to YouTube until they are older. I like to integrate technology in the Outdoor Classroom and experiments. When we watch a video the students take notes, which is a skill they are required to learn. Skype as you know is a great tool for communicating with everyone. This year we had a student that was very sick and we got to speak with her via Skype. The highlight of our year is skyping with you at Untamed Science.

Google Earth is awesome, students can go places and walk around, example Fort Sumter. We visit the site and walk around the Fort. I’ll send you some examples so you can see for yourself.


What inspired you to start doing this?

When I was in school, Science and Social Studies classes were looking up vocabulary words. BORING! I decided my classes would never be that way. I want students to be interested in Science beyond my class so I provide as much engaging activities as I can. These are the concepts students will remember. Maybe if I am enthusiastic about Science and History they will be too. Also I’m not just saying this but your videos have provided me great examples that I can use to film and teach with engaging activities.

Why do you think it’s important – how does it benefit students?

Students are more engaged and interested in the subject matter. Technology is their way of life. So it is second nature to them to use all the technology that is available to them. Why not use it for fun (education)?


What’s the most interesting feedback you’ve had so far?

When I hear students talk among themselves about the activities they have just completed. They may say Wow that was fun. When a concept that they think is really hard like chemistry is presented in an engaging activity, they don’t really realize that they have just completed a chemistry experiment. I always love when I use the word biodiversity and at the beginning of the year, they are like what is that? We may watch the video on Untamed Science about biodiversity which makes this big words somehow easy to understand. They feel so smart.


Do you have any advice for other teachers that may want to utilize media to increase learning?

Education with technology is fun and more engaging. Students will stay focused and you will be shocked at what they can really accomplish.