In this Issue: letter from the Executive Director, STEM Gift Guide, upcoming grant programs, donation pledge from NexTier Bank, and more.
As 2018 comes to a close, I first want to wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!
As our world becomes increasingly dependent on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), STEM learning shouldn’t be limited to just the classroom. STEM toys and activities are a great way to keep kids engaged and motivated to explore real-world topics.
This holiday season, inspire curiosity and empower exploration for boys and girls!
Here are some of our favorite ideas for STEM toys for all ages:
If you walked down the Hall of Arts and Letters at Grove City College on a Friday afternoon last September, you probably heard pre-service teachers say, “Cool!”, “This is awesome!” or “Wow, that is so neat!” as they experienced science experiments firsthand and learned how to integrate STEM initiatives into their classrooms.
From building toothpick-and-marshmallow bridges to testing classroom air quality with a Speck particulate monitor, Project-based Learning (PBL) engages students in answering questions about complex phenomena in their everyday lives.
From designing projects that address real problems to cultivating learning environments that inspire creativity and critical thinking, ASSET has long been a pioneer in supporting educators to adopt best practices in STEM education. The 2017 Trends Report from ASSET partner 100Kin10 confirms it.
Among its predictions for 2018, one trend that is expected to gain momentum is integrating STEM with real-world applications—something we’ve been doing for several years with project-based learning (PBL). We’ve recently enhanced the program with teacher externships, which provide opportunities for teachers to visit STEM professionals in the workplace in order to make PBL experiences relevant for students. And ASSET continues to equip educators and students with tools for success through professional development courses and STEM curriculum materials.
Two years ago, a group of North Hills School District teachers and I began the needs assessment portion of our curriculum review cycle for science. We entered the process with confidence in our core curriculum, as we’ve been partnering with ASSET and implementing “hands-on, minds-on” FOSS (Full Option Science System) programming for over 20 years. Furthermore, for the five years prior, the district was averaging 93 percent advanced or proficient on the fourth grade science state assessment tests in all four of our elementary buildings. Given Pennsylvania’s continued use of unchanged science standards, we didn’t think we’d need to make many tweaks to our curriculum. We soon would realize, however, that if we were to going to continue to offer the most meaningful science experiences to our students, we would have to take a much deeper dive into Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) materials than we had ever intended.
This past spring, ASSET’s professional development (PD) specialists traveled to Idaho—specifically Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston and Boise State University in Boise—to conduct three-day PD sessions for school district administrators, teachers, preservice teachers, and librarians. The onsite course, Lay a Strong Foundation for STEM Teaching and Learning in Your Classroom: Unlock Student Potential through Hands-on Inquiry, included an optional virtual component, which was offered throughout August, September, and October and will wrap up November 13.