By Sarah Hampton
I wish there was an extra planning block built into every teacher's day for locating quality, relevant resources. Educators and researchers are out there doing amazing things that I rarely hear about through the grapevine. Yet, when I spend a bit of time down rabbit holes on the internet, I stumble across exciting and innovative practices like STEP: Science through Technology Enhanced Play in which young students pretend to be bees and watch their bees interact on screen while an XBOX Kinect sensor bar maps their movements. If you have had similar challenges finding resources, then I have GREAT NEWS for you! Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation have created three-minute videos of some of the best things happening in STEM education in their projects and share them in a showcase. I have watched most from last year’s showcase, and I was surprised to see how many were free, easily implementable, and relevant across all disciplines--even those not traditionally considered to be under the STEM umbrella such as geography. You can also filter the videos by subject or grade level to find ones most helpful to your classroom.
As a science teacher, there are several hands-on activities that easily correlate to the content. As a math teacher, meaningful, engaging opportunities are harder to find. That’s why I was thrilled when I saw this video on teaching Algebra through coding using Bootstrap. The connections to Cartesian coordinates, the distance formula, and functions are tangible as students create their own video games. I have already proposed this idea to another math teacher and tech teacher at my school and they have responded with enthusiasm and buy in. We are hoping to meet over the summer to work through the free curriculum ourselves with intent to implement it through the eighth grade technology class next year.
My trip down this particular rabbit hole felt so much like Wonderland that I am counting down the days until the 2017 Stem for All Video Showcase: Research and Design for Impact funded by NSF beginning May 15. I hope to find you there. More importantly, I hope you find resources to implement in your school there. This is an exciting time to be in education! Check out the showcase and find out why!
Students pretend to be bees in STEP. STEP uses OpenPTrack, an open source platform for sensing position and movement of large groups of people.
Students write basic code to program their own video games in Bootstrap as a means of learning algebra.