Generations of young people will have to invent their jobs and be able to gather the necessary knowledge and tools. Where do students get to experience? Here are some possible places.
The '4th Floor" studio model (http://chattlibrary.org/4th-floor) in Chattanooga, TN, is a funded hackerspace, makerspace, event space, and civic laboratory where creativity and curiosity serve as the catalyst to launch students. Changing the roles of libraries in the face of constantly-accelerating technology and providing widespread access to digital literacy benefits communities and our students can combine digital literacy with making to invent careers.
Stephania Druga at Hackidemia (http:www.hackidemia.com) is trying to channel the makers communities toward the creation of networked local hubs that will provide access to the latest technologies and tools. People from the youngest of ages can Kickstart their project using the resources of these hubs. The hubs provide design workshops and kits that help students use curiosity, empathy and play to invent the future. Chapters are now in China, Poland and Romania,
Library Farm (www.nopl.org) an upstate New York library, plows the land and offers farming so students may learn about the science and social systems around food. Anyone can check out a plot of land. They can grow, share and learn about food literacy, organic and sustainable gardening.
There are people in all of our communities finding effective ways to hack learning and build new platforms to expand and develop students curiosity so they can someday create their own job!
Where can teachers look to find their student's STEM story?
Students need teachers to help them discover their own STEM story and find what they are passionate about. How do we create opportunities in the classroom that will engage students and facilitate STEM learning? Where are STEM stories found? Here are three that are sure to inspire teachers to look everywhere!
Los Angeles, a place known for celebrities, has many STEM stories like Ashton Kutcher and Mayim Bailik, celebrities using their science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and training to pursue their passion. Ashton Kutcher, once a biochemical engineering major, at the University of Iowa, continues to explore and invest in cutting-edge technologies and Mayim Bailik from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory, plays a neuroscientist actually has a degree in neuroscience and speaks to parents and teachers on how to foster STEM learning opportunities. Students that are actors, artists and designers drive innovation. Game design, simulations, AI, are just a few of the course offerings at Westminster Avenue Elementary School. This culturally diverse school employs a variety of strategies to produce student centered multimedia STEM stories.
At the Orange County Fair, kids are sharing their STEM stories about growing up on farms and describing the Science of raising animals and growing fruits and vegetables. They have the skills scientists use: observation, data recording, analysis, communication and problem-solving. They describe Technology on the farm in the form of a hoe, a pitchfork, a rake, a saw, a shovel and using tools to make work easier. Engineering design is used to solve problems. Ask, What do you know? What do you need to find out? Plan, come up with the possibilities of how you are going to solve the problem; Build, using the plan, the tools, repair, replace; Test to see if your thinking worked and Re-design as needed. Collaborating, patience and perseverance always produces better results, they assure me. The most important STEM strand they said is Math. Counting, estimating, measuring, and predicting so you can look at a field and know its size and how many rows of corn will grow. By knowing the rain fall data, they can predict the average size of pumpkins. How fortunate for these kids, growing up on farms.
In East Los Angeles, I visited a 5th grade class where I looked for ways to help students find their STEM story. One student was talking to his friend about what car was the most popular, especially among hip-hop artists. They realized that some of their favorite songs even mentioned these rides. The students began to wonder if they could make a list of what cars are mentioned in songs, and figure out what was the most popular.
Cars, music, how could we tell their STEM story? I asked, “What car do you think is the preferred ride?” They got in to a discussion about the size of the vehicles, the engine capabilities, what “fully loaded” meant. I asked, “What if you were to design a car, what would you want?” They immediately started describing vehicles they had been planning for some time. I asked if they would draw their cars for me. Their focus was so intense as they drew multiple views of their cars. I thought how great it would be if we could arrange for these car-concepts to be created on a 3-D printer. Other classmates noticed and asked what was going on. As they described what they were working on they wanted to join in and talk about cars they like.
The teacher came up to me and smiled. These were students that would not normally elect to work together. The fact that they all had interest in cars, gave them the opportunity to identify the STEM components in their interests, creating their STEM story. As we listened to them explain to each other about fuel injection, horsepower, and transmissions, it was evident they had an understanding of science, technology, engineering and math, as it relates to cars, but had not been evident in their classwork, tests or homework. These were students academically performing below grade level. Listening to their STEM story we knew we had to re-think how to make the curriculum work for these students. The teacher said they just finished a unit on energy transformation and the Law of Conservation of Energy. Not one of these students had engaged with the material and often seemed disinterested. I suggested we take their STEM story and introduce the role of materials and car design.
I met with the teacher and began to plan with her and shared the resource STEM Road Map: A Framework for Integrated STEM Education . The teacher saw that she could use this resource. The book provides teachers a STEM road map, mapping out Common Core (in mathematics and English/Language Arts), the Next Generation of Science Standards and the Framework for 21st Century learning into grade level STEM modules. The module, “Transportation-Motorsports Module”, was especially helpful, describing how students can take on the role of design engineers as they work in teams within a set of design constraints, to build an innovative prototype vehicle with a new safety aspect and powered by energy transformations. By asking, “What effect could materials have on cars?” students could investigate materials used in racing cars and street cars and look at how materials affect performance. We would engage these students to work together like racing teams to illustrate the division of duties and collaboration that is required for successful teams. The students’ were able to explore and have an opportunity to discover the science and math in what they are passionate about!
STEM stories are everywhere. Recognizing students passions and providing foundational knowledge, creativity and innovation, teachers can help students find their STEM story. Someday these students will become our scientists, engineers, technologists, or perhaps our actors, artists, designers or farmers! (author: Carrie Lynne Draper)
Rob van Nood is an Oregon licensed educator now working as a Educational Technologist at Catlin Gable School and Co-Founder of TINKER CAMP & TINKER EDU. He received his MAT from Lewis & Clark in 1995. Rob has always taken a fresh look at teaching, tinkering with ideas to make the learning experience more effective. On the first day of school a few years ago, for example, Rob's kids were presented with a completely empty classroom and were instructed to help him design the space. The idea was that if kids had control of their space, they would be more willing to work within it. This out-of-the-box thinking is Rob's signature, and it's his pursuit of teaching through the use of narrative that makes Tinker Camp such a unique experience. www.tinkercamp.org
As schools, libraries and community centers become hotbeds for maker spaces, fablabs and tinkering zones, there is a real need to train and support the those who are delivering programs from those spaces. Your partners at Tinker Camp know that it is not enough to buy a 3D printer or soldering iron. There must be skilled mentors and a well thought-out curricular program behind it all, guiding decisions and implementation. It is essential that strong programming and curricular design is developed right alongside creative and cutting edge spaces.
The folks at TINKER EDU provide individuals, schools and organizations custom coaching options for training, developmental support, and educational strategies. Their expertise is not just theoretical because they practice in TINKER camps and community enrichment programs. With over 30 years of combined classroom experience in pre-k through post-secondary environments, the Tinker EDU have a clear understanding of the needs and pressures that you experience every day. Their workshops are designed to inspire you and to provide real skills, ideas and strategies so you can easily make tinkering and making possible in any classroom or learning environment. These workshops provide a mixture of hands-on experiences, instruction and philosophical background, along with tools, materials and support. And whether your program is in a library, community center or school, your TINKER consultant-educator will be there to provide ongoing coaching.
Every summer, we have the wonderful opportunity of presenting, training and discovering some amazing STEM learning happening all over the country! Before the official day of summer begins, we want to post some of our favorite things for you to check out! Have fun and stay inspired!
We're Building a Pipeline!
At the Brooklyn New School, PS 146, a public school, Ecorama is the mixed age group planning, problem-solving and working together event that occurs throughout out the year. The day we visited we got to see them design, build and pump water through a system of pipes. http://bnsecorama.blogspot.com/ We love this school for many reasons including eating from their gardens and checking out the 4th grade Gowanus Betterment Projects including eco-sausages and floating islands!
Bakers and Astronauts?
"One of the biggest hurdles for people beginning to use open-ended materials in the classroom is choosing and curating the materials. What can a material do? How can it be used? What are the possibilities for play and work? Those are questions that we should ponder as educators, and curators of materials and environment. Those are questions that we can see children answer through their hands-on play with open-ended materials. We don't need to orchestrate how play will unfold, but supporting children's play doesn't end with choosing materials. Open-ended materials offer the opportunity for juicy, creative, and independent work for children of all ages. Choosing and curating materials is not just creating a setup that draws users in : it keeps the user engaged. Choosing a material that has multiple uses means that one thing is endlessly engaging: it can be used one way by one child, and another way by the next. It can be combined with other materials, or perhaps used on its own." says Allie Pasquier, creative mind behind Bakers & Astronauts! www.bakersandastronauts.com
I walked in to a middle school office and saw the board and new immediately it was a PINEAPPLE CHART! If you have not heard of this type of chart, you need to read on. In changing a traditional school to a 21st century innovative place of learning, you need to start by changing the ECOSYSTEM to be STEM friendly. You might have teachers who are immediately on board. Then you will have resisters. Even though research says that it takes 80 hours of Professional Development in order to train teachers to be true STEM educators, its still a process. One idea is to post a PINEAPPLE CHART in a faculty lounge, mailroom or some place where teachers who have something happening STEM-wise, can post their names/times. This becomes a WELCOME sign and faculty are invited to DROP IN and observe what STEM EXCELLENCE is happening there! It is informal, a chance to be inspired, see how a colleague manages a collaborative, problem-solving lesson, using Real World scenario challenges. It provides a way of sharing some innovative approaches and with such super talent in your school, why not allow teachers to see it happening? When a teacher takes a break, planning period, they are able to stop in and can stay as long as they need to. Later, colleagues can share/coach.mentor/ ask questions and begin to grow their own confidence in fostering more STEM Excellence in their classroom!
Using commonly found materials, children can experience the fun of building kinetic sculptures, musical gloves, and marble mazes! This ABC STEM website is a favorite and teachers and parents find it fun and easy to use. Have you ever considered making a xylophone with fruit? Or having children TOY with SOUND? Check it out! http://www.pienetwork.org/a2z/
How do meteorologists study the atmosphere? Who is NOAA? Who is NWS?
What technologies do we use to study and forecast the weather?
These were some of the Essential Questions that were asked by students recently as we held a workshop on exploring meteorology! What an opportunity we had using the tools real scientists have at their disposal to track patterns and make predictions. A highlight for all of us was to be able to use our communication skills and become meteorologist broadcasters. Thank you Discovery Center, Boise, Idaho, for letting us use our imaginations and inspire STEM careers!
Summer is a busy time for Readiness Learning Associates Teacher Professional Development training! School districts schedule months in advance to have training for their school leaders, teachers and staff. As the new school year approaches, many hold their PD week In-Service events towards the end of summer. RLA's team of STEM specialists are traveling all over the country to bring the very best to our clients. Days are packed with hands-on learning; lots of movement and training happening indoors and outdoors! With all of the months of planning, it is the 'surprises' that can turn an accident in to a STEM learning moment! Rushing for the airport, my foot collided with a door crushing two toes, that needed to be re-set and a sprained ankle! To navigate through an airport these days requires quite a bit of patience; this injury makes it more an Olympic endeavor! Flying, setting up STEM events and training, I am using this opportunity to show teachers how we can foster more collaboration and imagine the possibilities for STEM learning! Balance and Motion, are just a few added lessons to the already jammed packed training day! We are eager to take the journey alongside each of you. Together, we are on a mission to transform schools with STEM Integration and STEM Implementation! Here is to a great 2016-2017 school year and beyond !
Recently, Readiness Learning Associates took students for a behind the scenes tour at Warner Studios in Burbank, CA. We learned the science, engineering and technology used for many of the Harry Potter movies special & visual effects. Thank you Warner Brothers! Here is to some fun flying! Watch the end of the film to see Carrie Lynne Draper, Executive Director, Readiness Learning Associates enjoy her ride on a broom. Enjoy!
Do you remember your first Chemistry kit? I do! I am thankful that I was given opportunities to create, design, test and reconsider. Today's children may not have the time to make macro and micro discoveries that will empower them to become innovators. Give time to allow children to explore, become messy and discover what interests them!