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Articles: STEM

Two years ago, the Mehlville School District in suburban St. Louis passed a tax levy that included dedicated funding for professional development and strategic plans focusing on middle school STEM programs. For Tina Plummer, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in Mehlville, that meant implementing the STEM Innovator program with Discovery Education, where staff had ongoing professional development and coaching focused on STEM education and career opportunities.

The spread of learning on mobile devices has driven providers to push science platforms into the cloud.

Students in seventh-grade math classes are not necessarily ready for seventh-grade math. They may be rusty in concepts taught in sixth grade, or ready for high-level applications covered in high school.

That is why the ALEKS® personalized learning program from McGraw-Hill Education is an integral part of the math curriculum in Oak Creek-Franklin middle schools, says Annalee Bennin, director of curriculum and assessment for the southeastern Wisconsin district.

REACHING AT-RISK STUDENTS—Through Berkeley Township’s Project Reach, at-risk students can participate in Camp Paw, a summer program that provides extra learning opportunities, including reading and STEM activities.

A combination of grants, donations, and discounted materials and services from the community led to the creation of Berkeley Township School District's Project Reach program for at-risk students.

Repurposing buses no longer suitable for daily transportation has provided schools with mobile makerspaces, traveling cafés and bookmobiles.

A new movement that promises closer cooperation between higher ed and K12 aims to end this legacy of passing the buck.

Schools and districts in nearly 30 states—including Lyon County School District (Nevada)—use the Edthena platform to video coach educators. Lyon County began video coaching its 200 elementary school teachers in the 2017-18 school year. The PD was made possible by a grant from the Nevada Department of Education.

HANDS-ON LEARNING—The Mandell Academy at the Connecticut Science Center provides opportunities for local teachers to experiment with science in a student-free environment.

Many science centers and museums offer STEM-related PD, and want to partner with districts to develop programs that align with school curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards.

Elementary teachers at Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut, leverage data they gather through observation and evaluation, as well as test scores, to drive classroom math instruction. The technology in their math curriculum, McGraw-Hill Education’s Everyday Mathematics 4®, allows teachers to easily record data and provides detailed reports they use to identify students that might be struggling to master specific state standards, as well as those that are ready for a challenge.

Growing mental health needs of students ranked as one of the major issues facing educators who participated in DA’s 2018 Outlook Survey.

David Liss was seeing a unique challenge when it came to implementing 1-to-1 technology for the 6,200 students in Nixa Public Schools, one of the top-performing districts in Missouri.

“One of the things that kept coming up for us was there wasn’t data to support the premise that 1-to-1 technology increased student performance,” says Liss, who is Nixa’s executive director of technology. “In lower-performing districts, the data showed that 1-to-1 technology was increasing engagement, which was increasing student performance.”

MOBILE PLATFORM—La Joya ISD’s new mobile tech lab brings ed tech and internet access to low-income students in rural areas.

A custom-made mobile tech lab brings tech and internet access to the neighborhoods of low-income students in La Joya ISD (7,000 students) on Texas’ Mexican border.

K12 STEM programs are evolving, incorporating new tools and technologies to better prepare students for rapidly changing college and career environments. Makerspaces, drones, coding and robotics are all part of this next generation of STEM learning that is just beginning to have an impact in districts.

Little Falls City School District’s standards-based Engineering by Design program strives to build students’ resilience while developing their real-life problem-solving skills.

De Anza Academy of Technology and the Arts is a high-achieving magnet school with project-based and collaborative-learning environments and makerspaces. A few years ago, however, De Anza, part of Ventura USD in California, was a low-achieving middle school with declining enrollment and at risk of closure. 

De Anza decided to become a 1-to-1 technology school to engineer a turnaround, which intrigued Alex Wulff, who is a STEM instructor at De Anza, but it also left him with a question.

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