The first Wednesday of October is National Walk and Bike to School Day! Even if you didn’t walk or bike to school with your students today, don’t worry – I've got you covered. Here are 3 activities you and your students can try today (and beyond):
The drive for integrating more hands-on STEM activities and lessons that tap into and sharpen students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills is high. Educators are trying to find and/or design lessons that students will be motivated by and further their interest in STEM learning. But with limited time and resources, this can also be one of the bigger challenges, and STEM is often limited to what is ‘left over’ after language arts and mathematics has taken the bulk of the focus.
Believe it or not, this generation of young people is interested in data – likes, shares, comments. They sometimes use this data to create content, even apps, to address what they perceive as needs observed. How can this translate to STEM learning in the classroom? When problems are addressed within real-life contexts, this generation of students – digital natives who are accustomed to using technology to find answers and research information – are more likely to be engaged in the learning process.
Since the shift to remote learning due to pandemic-related school closures, the focus on science has suffered in comparison to the focus on core subjects such as math and language arts. While some students benefited from the increased flexibility of remote learning, others needed more hands-on investigations. As more schools are opening to in-person learning, the need to incorporate STEM is essential. Why? Research has shown that the call for STEM-related jobs has grown much faster, as much as three times more, than the call for other jobs. The investment of time and resources in STEM instruction now is an investment in the STEM workforce.
March 18th is Global Recycling Day and this year’s theme is ‘Recycling Heroes’ to recognize those who demonstrate the critical role that recycling plays. This includes what these recycling heroes do to help keep the environment clean and balanced. By recycling, we help decrease the need for collecting and processing non-renewable resources like coal and oil, and raw materials like trees. All these activities contribute to the pollution of our air and water, as well as increase greenhouse gas emissions thus affecting the climate. Recycling saves energy and reduces the hazardous effects of greenhouse gases such as the continued rise of global temperatures, melting ice caps, and the increased danger of wildfires. Really, we all could be recycling heroes by the actions we take. Here are activities to try with your class, even in a hybrid learning environment:
Bob Wallace, a now retired high school biology teacher in Crawfordville, Florida, was resolute in his goal that his students graduate with a full range of academic skill sets and technical knowledge that would prepare them for a successful future. In his over 30 years of teaching, he found that textbooks alone could rarely explain important concepts that kept his students engaged and employed a variety of strategies to explain difficult science concepts to his students. He was consistently on the lookout for options that would keep his students engaged. He stated, “Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different things. I have done drawings on boards, still magnets, and I’ve used beads – the beads go bouncing all over the place and you end up losing all of them.”
In my humble opinion, physical activity has decreased somewhat in the past 18 months or so. With many students still in remote or hybrid learning environments, they're less likely to be as active as they were when attending school on-site. As most of us know, besides allowing for more physical activity during breaks (run outside for 15 minutes, 5-minute stretches every hour, 60-minute lunch and recreation break sans devices), learning should also incorporate movement. In addition, with the push for increased hands-on STEM integration, students who are learning from home need a viable option for STEM education besides online games and interactive worksheets.
Happy Computer Science Education Week! Thanks to technology, there are so many wonderful and engaging ways to teach computer science concepts. From sensors and online coding to robots and 3D printers, educators have more tools than ever to help. Sometimes, though, all these tools can be a bit overwhelming. While many educators utilize technology tools independently, they are best used when integrated together. Just like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is not four completely independent subjects without overlap, the use of robotics, 3D printers, and sensors shouldn’t be used in isolation either. So, here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you’re making the most of your technology tools.
Many teachers are struggling with how to address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) topics in this time of social-distancing and remote-learning. Even for schools that are meeting in person, many of the hands-on lesson plans that teachers might have previously utilized are incredibly challenging under distancing and cleanliness guidelines. After all, who really has time to sanitize every block in a base-ten-blocks set between students? No one.