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Articles: STEM

 

What is Disney's Planet Challenge?

Disney's Planet Challenge is a free, project-based environmental and science competition for grades 3-8 that encourages students to make a difference in their schools, their communities and at home.

 

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) plays an important role in ensuring that Disney's Planet Challenge conforms to rigorous educational standards and appeals to the widest range of teachers and students.

The gulf drilling explosion on the Deepwater Horizon caused an unprecedented disaster that left experts scrambling to discover the elusive solution that will halt the unceasing flow of pollutants. The question remains: How do we prevent this kind of disaster from happening again? The most sustainable and forward-thinking answer may lie in education. It is within the academic realm of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), often touted as the Achilles' heel of the U.S. educational system, that the foundations for future disaster-aversion could be built.

As the nation prepares for common core standards in math and English language arts, a framework to guide new science standards in elementary and secondary education—where students are showing only mediocre achievement compared to other nations—is getting closer.

A new report released in May finds that although a majority of K12 educators believe that financial literacy is an important content area that should be taught in schools, only a small minority feel qualified to teach it or have ever taught the topic in class.

With oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon drilling explosion and experts scrambling to discover the elusive solution that will halt the unceasing flow of pollutants, it's time to begin grappling with the necessary question that legislators, bureaucrats and everyday citizens must now address: How do we prevent this kind of disaster from happening again?

A well-rounded education now includes environmental literacy, according to the Obama administration.

"A Blueprint for Reform," the administration's amended proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), has for the first time carved out room in the budget for environmental education. The proposed bill, No Child Left Inside (NCLI ), is among the administration's signature competitive grants and if passed would provide $500 million over five years to states that develop superior environmental and outdoor education plans.

Female elementary school teachers may project a fear of math onto their female students, causing them to do poorly in the subject, according to a new study, "Female Teachers' Math Anxiety Impacts Girls' Math Achievement," published by the University of Chicago in January.

For many students, natural science seems irrelevant to everyday life. Whether they are teaching biology or physics, unless they explicitly show students how formulas and processes apply to their own lives, teachers run the risk of disengaging students and allowing their minds to wander freely.

 

Disney’s Planet Challenge began in California in 1994 and has since expanded to Florida, the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong. This year, the program will be launched nationwide. Here are examples of winning projects from past years.

A movement to spread scientific learning in a casual environment that started in Britain in the late 1990s has gotten a foothold in the United States. At science cafés, adults gather at a restaurant, bar or other nonacademic spot to listen to a presentation on a scientific topic while enjoying their favorite beverage.

Pitsco’s green projects and products, Lexmark’s paper program, and Lutron Electronics’ Greenovation program are just a few curricular ideas that K12 classrooms are using to help districts save energy and teach students to help save the environment.

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