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!
As the STEM Advisor to Caltech Children's Center, people often comment to me that our program must be intense, because it is Caltech. Yes, we are home to more than 32 Nobel laureates including 18 alumni and 18 professors. Founder of Intel, Gordon Moore is an alumnus of our college, so you figure we are pretty good at coding & programming! However, we had to work with our teachers to become more comfortable with coding & programming. We used comedy with fun activities that produced lots of laughter and appreciation for understanding the basic principals of coding & programming. When we started introducing coding and programming to our students, we designed lessons so children socialize, not sit in front of digital devices all day and provide a well-balanced technology program. Using small group, play-oriented learning in our classrooms, the curriculum is oriented to build 21st century skill and thinkers. When our students move on to elementary school, they are ready for more exposure to apps, robotics with VEX and LEGO, 3D modeling & animation, and Scratch. We have discovered that even three year old children like designing and programming robots. We encourage teachers and students as they gain confidence in computer science and engineering.
Marilyn vos Savant, newspaper columnist, was once asked, "Do you think algebra should be required in our schools?" Her answer was simply, "Its essential!'. Algebra is pure logic, and all students need to learn how to think, not just what to think! The subject has to be taught well, by GREAT algebra experienced teachers! When studying algebra, students learn how to reason with facts and without bias. Students should learn why various operations should be performed, not only how to perform them! You can't progress in science without algebra! Studying algebra builds brainpower! Marilyn is asked, "What about the student who will not go in to science-related careers, can they just skip it?" Again, she uses the example of going to the gym. Do you go to see all the equipment at work? No, you go there to be more physically fit for everything you do. By requiring all students to take Algebra, taught by GREAT teachers, and experiencing how to think, will be beneficial for many learning experiences in the years ahead! Insist that the BEST algebra teachers are teaching these subjects. Not all math teachers can teach algebra!
This growing iPad, iPhone and for Androids devices, e-library can allow teachers to create 30 student profiles and track their reading progress! The digital library offers thousands of books for every age level and includes picture books, early readers, non-fiction and more! Love their science offerings!
Early Childhood educators are looking for ways to promote computational thinking and tinkering with their preschool students. Imagining bringing together the E&T in STEM using early childhood robotics curriculum? The Journal of Technology and Teacher Education has many thought provoking articles on what you need to consider before the Wheels on the Bot Go Round and Round! Dr. Bers has written Blocks to Robots and is worth a read as you consider childrens programming comprehension and building!
It is that time of year when we gear up to celebrate the season with children! As a colleague shared how much her family looks forward to decorating their holiday tree, I got to be thinking about all the glitter, tinsel and festive decorations! Many schools say they are STEM schools, but if you look closer, they are just decorating trees! Lots of glitter & sparkle! STEM activities that delight & entertain children are not the same as STEM lessons that require children to conduct their investigations using science and engineering practices in A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC 2011).
Classrooms incorporating 3-Dimensional learning will have students build models, design investigations, share ideas, develop explanations, and argue using evidence. If we want students to learn content and apply their knowledge, they must use cross-cutting concepts (CCs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) and science and engineering practices (SEPs) in an integrated method! What is the easiest way to do this? Watch your students, are they more interested in making sense of how something works or in designing a solution? Scientists and Engineers are always trying to make sense of how things work and design solutions to improve something. Check out the National Science Foundations Discoveries web page http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/ and visit Joe Krakcik (firstname.lastname@example.org) Director, Institute for Collaborative Research for Education, Assessment, and Teaching Environment for CREATE for STEM at Michigan State University.
Bob Eberle developed SCAMPER, a brainstorming tool which is essentially a cognitive strategy that serves as a scaffold. During instruction, there are often times teachers want students to solve a problem.In moving students through design and engineering work, we need SCAMPER, a mnemonic that stands for:
Put to another use
This allows students to take an existing object, product, or service. When teachers use question stems to help students brainstorm things they can change or modify, they are able to think like real engineers! In the September issue of Science & Children, there is a wonderful article written by Jenny Sue Flannagan, Director of the Martinson Center for Mathematics and Science at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA (p34-43) If you are a NSTA member, you can download a blank version of the SCAMPER brainstorming sheet at www.nsta.org/SC1509