By Stephanie Levi, Ph.D. It’s no secret that great staff are essential for STEM program success. Front-line staff are the folks who will be interacting with the youth in your program, the people your participants will remember as they grow up, and the role models your participants will be looking up to as they consider their future in STEM. Great staff are also essential, as they are the ones likely to be interacting with participants’ families, setting the tone for families’ comfort level with STEM. The ability to put a welcoming, friendly face on a STEM program can change the way people feel about STEM in general – program staff are STEM ambassadors of the highest order. Research indicates that some of the strongest factors in success or failure in youth engagement in STEM is teacher quality, and this extends to teachers and instructors in informal settings, too. It is truly essential that programs ensure that OST front-line staff are equipped to convey positive qualities in their STEM work, ensuring that the staff who deliver STEM programs, communicate about STEM to youth and seek to inspire enthusiasm, interest and a sense of wonder regarding STEM topics are fully equipped to do so. You may find the following resources helpful in supporting your staff members’ professional development for STEM OST programs. These resources can enable programs to develop comfort and competence with STEM processes, techniques, methods and protocols, develop aptitude for teaching STEM using inquiry-based, experiential methods, help staff link STEM to the disciplines’ real-world applications, help staff learn to make clear career and college connections with the STEM experience, and help staff identify and integrate clear youth development connections that are brought out in practice. […]
Sara Paretsky talks about her new book “Critical Mass” and Sisters4Science on WBEZ’s the Afternoon Shift!
Any STEM OST practitioner wrestles with this question. As the field of STEM OST becomes more diverse, as offerings increase, and a groundswell of services arises to meet the needs of youth and their families, understanding (and agreeing on) learning outcomes for STEM OST programs is important. A recent report from the Afterschool Alliance produced with sponsorship from the Noyce Foundation and the S.D. Betchel Jr. Foundation has undertaken a study to support the STEM OST community in answering this critical question. The report, entitled “Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in Afterschool,” aimed to identify the STEM learning outcomes that STEM OST program leaders and supporters believe are best practice for STEM OST programs. The report examines which indicators of progress toward the outcomes should be, and what good measurement and evaluation for these indicators would resemble. One caveat to consider is the fact that the evaluation methods outlined do not always include tools that have been created – some are on practitioners’ wish lists, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from digging in to think about how they might learn from the research encompassed by this report, and join the conversation with their own perspectives. You can access the report here, and join us at the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative’s LinkedIn page to share your thoughts on the report and talk with us about the ideal outcomes for STEM OST programs, the indicators for those learning outcomes, and how they might be measured. If you have methods you like, we’d love to learn about those to share them with the community!
PROJECT EXPLORATION COORDINATING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TEN80 STUDENT RACING CHALLENGE IN CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS SPONSORED BY THE U.S. ARMY
Students Collaborate, Create & Compete in Student Racing Challenge CHICAGO, Il. (October 9, 2013) — Chicago Public Schools and local science-education non-profit Project Exploration are partnering with the U.S. Army-sponsored Ten80 Student Racing Challenge to bring the exciting science of race car driving to CPS students and educators over the next school year. On October 17th, close to 400 CPS students and educators will gather for the Student Kick-Off Event at Schurz High School, 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60641. The Ten80 Student Racing Challenge is an in school and after-school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum and optional competition league adopted by schools in 29 states. Combining Project Exploration’s student-centered approach to youth science and the Ten80 racing kits and curriculum, students at 12 CPS schools will spend the school year gaining hands-on exposure to the connection between motorsports, technology careers and a lifelong commitment to hands-on and brains-on learning. They will join the national initiative that is attracting a broad and diverse audience to STEM learning. The program’s high ratings from Change the Equation, along with sponsorships from the U.S. Army and other leading entities, ensure today’s youth are prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. “The U.S. Army supports high-performance education initiatives that are research-based, compelling for youth and reach a widely underserved audience,” said Mark Davis, deputy assistant Secretary of the Army for Marketing and director of the Army Marketing and Research Group. “The level of engineering and teamwork on display in Ten80′s classrooms and competitions is reflective of the Army’s leading-edge technology and the powerful, realistic training of its Army Strong Soldiers.” “This is an excellent opportunity for students to dive deep into the science of […]
Project Exploration hosted an “Afternoon Tea” at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Sunday, October 13, 2013 to introduce–or reintroduce–its guests to PE and its ongoing service to the community that provides meaningful, hands-on, personalized experiences that connect students with scientists. The guests received a “passport” to tour four different science stations which let them engage in feats of engineering, forensics and making moon craters, including who could build the tallest structure out of spaghetti, a marshmallow and some string and tape! They also enjoyed the premiere of the video produced by and starring Project Exploration’s students featuring their forensics, environmental engineering, and paleontology program from last summer. Join us today– Volunteer for a project! Help us help the future find their place… in science and technology!
Project Exploration is partnering with U.S. Army, LAB-AIDS, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Ten80 to implement the STEM NASCAR Student Racing Challenge in 10 Chicago Public High Schools and Middle Schools. Ten80 is a project-based learning program that challenges students in and out of schools to optimize the performance of 1:10 scale radio controlled cars.
Join us at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Sunday, October 13th from 2-4pm! It will be a time to meet PE students, enjoy the Conservatory and have a bite to eat! CLICK below to reserve your space!
Natasha and Syda, the ladies behind the scenes at Project Exploration, went to the Museum of Science and Industry on Friday with BP America to celebrate the opening of MSI’s newest permanent exhibit: Future Energy Chicago. Future Energy Chicago features interactive simulations that engage visitors to learn about today’s energy landscape and envision Chicago’s energy future.
Watch this great video the STEM Discoveries Summer 2013 students made with Free Spirit Media about the Forensics portion of the Summer 2013 program. You can also watch short videos about the Environmental Engineering and Paleontology sections, and read what program leader Dr. Elena Schroeter has to say about the great summer.
For six weeks this summer, more than a dozen youth participated in a Project Exploration program that explored three different scientific fields, as well as methods for communicating both science and their experiences to the public. Led by Elena Schroeter Ph.D. Candidate, this first-ever STEM Discoveries Program incorporated two weeks of paleontology, one week of forensics, and two weeks of engineering into summer-long, hands-on learning experience. These adventures culminated in a video report that students scripted, recorded, and edited with Tracee Brock, from Free Spirit Media. During the paleontology unit of this program, students investigated not only ancient life, but the geologic history of our planet. Beginning at the formation of the Earth and traveling through 4.6 billion years of time, students visited the Evolving Planet exhibition at the Field Museum to gain an understanding of how the world and its inhabitants have changed over the eons. For many students, this was their first introduction to both the concept of geologic time, and the Field Museum. From this starting point, students learned about how to “read” history in rocks by building models of stratigraphic rock layers out of cake and frosting (and of course, gummy candies for fossils). Those rock layers were much tastier than the ones we sampled on our all-day hiking trip to Mathiessen and Starved Rock State Parks (in order to assess their clay content)! There, geologist Bill Shields led the students on an unforgettable adventure into a canyon and behind a waterfall, to the amazement of some students who had not traveled much outside of cities. Back in Chicago, students got an anatomy lesson by examining the bones inside their fried chicken lunch, and comparing them with the skeletons of other […]