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Articles: STEM

Judy Zimny, Ed.D., is the vice president of the National Institute for STEM Education (http://nise.institute), which offers certification programs in STEM best practices and pedagogy for both teachers and campuses.

I came up with 10 questions that busy administrators might ask to help them quickly and confidently make decisions about STEM ideas that deserve an additional look.

ROBOTS MAKE STEM FUN—A St. Vrain Valley high school student takes part in the rigorous STEM program that helps him attain future options, including more relevant job skills once he graduates college, or even high school.

At least five states, including Ohio, Nevada, New York and Texas, offer special endorsements for high school graduates who demonstrate strong achievement in STEM.

Want to start a STEM program that benefits all students? Here are a few tips from our experts:

1. Align preK-12 education with demand from business world. Education should keep up with changing needs of industry, and prepare students to be problem-solvers and design thinkers, says Patty Quinones, assistant superintendent of innovation at St. Vrain Valley School District.

A STEAM learning philosophy is just one of many trends that districts will incorporate more over the next five years, according to the latest New Media Consortium/CoSN Horizon Report,

Middle and high school students in Providence, Rhode Island, can earn badges—and class credit—for skills learned in after-school programs.

Two years ago, when it became clear that their previous curricula for grades 6 through 8 did not align with required math standards, school leaders at Berwick Alternative K-8 School in Columbus, Ohio, began looking for a replacement. Berwick has 700 students, 60 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. 

East High School students in the Rochester City School District recently earned the opportunity to send their microgravity experiment to the International Space Station.

The latest K12 school designs in classrooms favor versatile and adaptive spaces to support blended and project-based learning, as well as other progressive education techniques.

Chicago is the first large urban district in the country to implement Learn.Plan.Succeed. (Gettyimages.com: miteemaus5).

Chicago Public Schools will require a new first-of-its-kind program to ensure all students leave high school with a post-graduation plan.

Imagine being able to reach out, touch and manipulate an object you’ve designed – before the object exists physically in the real world. That’s the premise and promise of virtual reality, and it’s something a company called zSpace offers classrooms around the country.

With zSpace, students and teachers can “lift” digital objects—such as a human skeleton—from the screen and manipulate them in three dimensions, but without any messy, real-world consequences.

In four Utica Community elementary schools in metro Detroit, students as young as 10 manipulate and pull apart the organs of the body, build roller coasters, and design and test 3D prototypes.

When Teasley Middle School in Cherokee County, Georgia, opened for the 2013-14 school year, teachers and administrators were looking for an opportunity to help students in grades 6 through 8 better understand STEM learning content. 

Teasley is a Title I school with more than half of its students receiving free or reduced lunch. It also has the highest percentage of English language learners and students with disabilities among middle schools in Cherokee County School District, which has 41,800 students and is 40 minutes north of Atlanta.

Look for role models. Districts should find preschools that are already teaching STEM, consider what elements make it a strong program, and think about ways they could modify instruction for their own classrooms, says Phil Hampton, network director of VC STEM, an alliance of organizations working to enhance STEM instruction for students of all ages.

PRESCHOOL AND PINE CONES—A preschool student at Hopkins Public Schools, above, is already learning how to inspect a pine cone with a magnifying glass as part of a lesson in STEM subjects.

Preschool math performance predicts future academic achievement more consistently than reading or attention skills, according to new research from New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Champaign Unit 4 School District in Illinois wanted to give its teachers a very clear pathway to evolve their math instruction to meet rigorous, Common Core state standards. 

District leaders were very happy with earlier results from McGraw-Hill’s Everyday Mathematics and saw Everyday Mathematics 4, its latest iteration, as an enticing solution, especially in teaching the Common Core state standards, according to Susan Zola, assistant superintendent for achievement, curriculum and instruction. 

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