This pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Schools are working towards creating an environment where students can learn at home by equipping them with the necessary technology to make the “virtual classroom” a reality. Unfortunately, STEM learning doesn’t appear to be a focus and it needs to be.
Eons ago, when I was in elementary school, we did a unit on fossils and their importance on understanding how prehistoric plants and animals lived. I was fascinated and for a brief moment in 4th grade, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I would stare at all of the pictures of the different fossils and dream about going on a true-blue dig and discover something cool like a fossil from a mammoth or saber tooth tiger. Of course, I never did become a paleontologist instead choosing to teach because that feeling of excitement when I learned something new was one I wanted all young learners to experience. But I do wonder if my teacher had the technology to make different fossils for closer study maybe I would have chosen the paleontology path.
Do you remember the first time you made a paper airplane? Who taught you to fold one? Did your plane fly? I think I was about 6 years old and my uncle visiting from the Philippines showed me how to fold one using one of my homework sheets. I was fascinated as I watched him make the folds, ensuring that each fold was precise, explaining each step. Then he took the newly built paper airplane, lifted his arm, and – whoooosh!-- it flew across my living room. It worked!! This was my first exposure to science and engineering, and it was one I often repeated throughout my elementary school years – design, construction, and test flights to identify the “perfect” paper plane. I was doing STEM before STEM was part of our educational vocabulary! Well, today is National Paper Airplane Day and this is the perfect time to explore the different areas of STEM with one activity.
You may have seen media stories of the air being clearer since stay-at-home directives have been implemented in different areas of the world (Los Angeles, India). NASA satellite data actually shows a 30-percent decrease in air pollution over the northeast United States (click on the link to view slider image: Drop in Air Pollution). What does this all mean for our climate? How are your children and/or students reacting to the changes? Do they realize there are changes at all? This may be an opportune time to include climate change into your instructional plan, especially with the focus of Earth Day 2020 being climate action. So how can you do it? Here are 7 ideas to try:
We’re a couple of weeks into spring and most of us are hunkered down at home, trying to create fun learning experiences for our children and/or students. With limited access to science kits, labs, and high tech tools, what can be used at home to boost STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) learning? Here’s a list of our favorite 10:
Space: The final frontier. A topic that is touched on in many science classrooms, but rarely finds a foothold in the major learning of our students. Learning about space provides opportunities to not only teach the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), but also allows students to think, dream, and wonder.
As a classroom teacher of science or any other discipline, the topic of space can be a great crosscutting concept. As teachers dive into the NGSS, they can use these cross-curricular ideas to engage and deepen student learning.
Teachers try to balance many different elements while planning lessons. Content standards, interest level of students, high levels of rigor, prior knowledge, and empowering and engaging student learning all play a role as teachers are determining how to structure a lesson. As teachers think about increasing relevance in the classroom and applying critical thinking strategies, they can look no further than the current debate about climate change in our world—a topic that meets most, if not all, of the criteria listed above.
In the first part of our micro-cloud learning series, we discussed how this technology is impacting educators and students worldwide. But what exactly does it take to get this technology up and running?
A micro-cloud implementation spans three distinct levels of a distributed architecture. These are the centralized cloud console, the micro-cloud instance(s), and the intelligent devices.
The potential to create a better world through global learning initiatives has never been greater. All of the wisdom and knowledge ever created has been captured, digitized, and catalogued to allow young people to learn and grow faster than ever before. World leaders from both the government and technology sectors have rallied over the last decade to increase learning absorption through e-learning initiatives that put this knowledge at the fingertips of students everywhere in the world.
Back in September, I was sitting in a district computer teacher meeting discussing activities we used in our classrooms. My colleagues mentioned how they participate in the Hour of Code and other coding activities. Meanwhile, I was sliding down in my seat, embarrassed that I wasn’t doing the same cool activities as the others.
I have only been teaching computer class for five years, and I’m still learning how to balance life as a teacher/librarian as well as a technology instructor. Still, I want to do well on the technology side of my job. Instead of sitting around and feeling incompetent, I got online and found out more information about Code.org—an organization that sponsors the Hour of Code and a website that provides resources for teachers. Code.org also offers many professional development opportunities; I found a workshop close to home and signed up.