STEMpower

5 Ways to Incorporate STEM Into Your After-School Program

5 Ways to Incorporate STEM Into Your After-School Program

One of the main problems that after-school and classroom programs face when incorporating STEM, is that much of the content is hard to understand and does not inspire students to learn the material. Since the advent of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), more and more hands-on projects have been utilized in order for students to think, act and feel like true scientists, technology specialists, engineers or mathematicians. In fact, it has been shown that students learn science better in more informal situations.

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Why Grades Aren't Working

Why Grades Aren't Working

Are grades harming our students more than they are benefitting the education industry (Olson, 2006)? In the corporate-style education realm of today, the grading and point system has been relied upon heavily to measure how students are learning and teachers are teaching, but these systems don’t give an accurate depiction of what is actually happening in classrooms (Kohn, 2011). It has been shown that grading systems used as measures of assessment can be quite detrimental to the education process for many reasons. Often, students become less motivated because they are no longer learning for themselves or for the sake of learning, but they are learning as a measure of their self-worth (Richert, Ph.D.). This creates an environment where students are pitted against one another in constant competition. In addition, students tend to avoid intellectual risks because they fear getting bad marks, versus pushing themselves in ways that might make them grow (Kohn).

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Drones For a Better Future

Drones For a Better Future

“Drones Take Over,” and “FAA: More Pilots Reporting Close Calls with Drones,” are popular headlines involving drones, and as drone craze continues to grow in popularity, many of these negative headlines begin to make people wonder, “Are drones a good thing?” But despite the news and upcoming legislative bans drones (often referred to UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles) are not evil, and should not be connoted as such. As DroneLife.com explained, “like any new technology, drones are going through the ‘Frankenstein’ stage - people fear what they do not understand,” (Reagan, 2015). What most people do not yet understand is that drones have the ability to completely redefine our world in terms of health, safety, education and more.

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Expert Opinion: Jim Schmidt, Ed.D.

Expert Opinion: Jim Schmidt, Ed.D.

After working nearly his entire life in the education world, Jim Schmidt has gained a unique insight as to what students need to ensure a successful post-ed career in their civic and work lives. Schmidt received his BA in Secondary Education, MA in Counseling and Ed.D in Counselor Education. While he has extensive qualifications in the education world, he has worked with school counselors, managed placement activities for under-privileged individuals to get them jobs and back in school, presided as the Technical Education Guidance Supervisor of Idaho and even served as the principal of one of Idaho’s most successful technical schools. In addition to this incredible history of employment, Jim Schmidt was instrumental in developing and implementing the Idaho Career Guidance Model. Over the course of his career, Schmidt feels he understands what education needs because as he said, “I think that the experience I had really helped me to understand what students needed to become employed and also to help understand what industry wanted of education… because the whole goal is to help kids become self-sufficient and educated so they can live in the world of work.”

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21st Century Skills in the Classroom

21st Century Skills in the Classroom

When discussing 21st Century Skills, these most often refer to critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, innovation, problem-solving and other similar skills which are highly sought after in the evolving workforce of tomorrow. Although the idea of what 21st Century Skills, for the most part, remains constant, the idea of what constitutes 21st Learning tends to be controversial. Educators have different opinions as to how these skills will be acquired by students, and in what kind of environment they will be most successful. Some believe that a PBL (Project-Based Learning) atmosphere is the most lucrative approach to teach students skills for the future, some advocate the use of current technology in the classroom and others encourage a return to the basics to reinforce communicative and collaborative skills among students. The controversy continues, as 21st Century Skills become progressively more important for young learners to possess.

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The Future of Robotics in STEM Education

The Future of Robotics in STEM Education

Robotics is actively becoming used in a wide variety of learning environments, and the market shows no signs of slowing down. It has been proven that the use of robotics can help to encourage confidence and a positive attitude toward education in students, which helps to reinvigorate classrooms with cross-curricula activities. STEM education proponents are looking for more ways to incorporate robotics classes into schools at the earliest of ages. Peter Turner for Tribotix wrote in 2009, “Robotics will play a major role in the future, so it is important we prepare the current generation of students for this.” With this in mind, robotics is an obvious and important field of the future which helps students to develop important skills for the 21st century.

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Customer Spotlight: Vallivue Middle School

Customer Spotlight: Vallivue Middle School

Casey Boothby, a teacher at Vallivue Middle School, has used PCS Edventures robotics curriculum in his classrooms over the past four years. He is currently teaching robotics as an elective for the second year in a row. Boothby said the robotics elective class “tends to fill up” because students get to choose the projects they work on. He explained, “The way I have it built is all student driven, so the students have a lot of ownership and pride about what they make in my class… they can choose something more complex to challenge themselves… It’s really cool to see them take that on!”

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The Science of Summer Camps

The Science of Summer Camps

Summer season 2015 is approaching quickly and parents are seeking summer solutions to fill the school gap. What many parents don’t realize is what their children will lose during these months of Summer fun. Studies show that a lack of educational stimulation during a break leads to lower test scores, lessened mental retention and on average kids perform one month behind where they left off in the grade before (Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, Greathouse, 1996). However, there is a simple solution to this loss - educational summer camps! Summer camps with academic base allow students to continue learning during the off-months, which leads to better learning retention, increased STEM career pathways and offer a variety of subject exposure in a flexible learning environment. In combination, these benefits prepare students for each upcoming school year.

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