Resources from STEM Smart Workshops

The Successful STEM Resource Library includes programs and projects featured at STEM Smart workshops, as well as briefs based on research and recommendations from the National Research Council reports, Successful K-12 STEM Education and Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.
With funding from the NSF, the Building Blocks project achieved its goal of helping children find the mathematics in, and develop the mathematics from, their everyday activities—from art and stories, to puzzles and games. Comprised of print materials, software, and more, Building Blocks is designed to help children learn number concepts, such as counting, basic arithmetic, and spatial and geometric concepts and processes. Building Blocks helps all children learn to mathematize their informal experiences by understanding and talking about them. If they do not learn to mathematize, lower-income children lose the connection between their informal knowledge and later school mathematics, and the gap between them and their more advantaged peers widens, year after year. Mathematization emphasizes representing and elaborating mathematically—creating models of everyday situations with mathematical objects, such as numbers and shapes; mathematical actions, such as counting or transforming shapes; and their structural relationships—and using those models to solve problems so derived. Mathematizing often involves representing relationships in the situation so these relationships can be quantified. Mathematics in puzzles, blocks, and songs is great. However, if it's “just play with blocks,” too often little mathematics is learned.
The Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program (ChiS&E) envisions producing a generation of young minority Chicago adults prepared to take their place in this new global economy and compete successfully with children in any place in the America and the world. We realize that a dream without a plan is just a wish. By employing our theory of change that focuses on developing the early interest of African-American and Latino children in STEM and deeply engaging their parents in the process, we believe that we can realize this vision. Out of this vision, SETSEP was conceived to provide highly engaging, age-appropriate, hands-on science and engineering activities for Chicago Public Schools students in grades K–3 and their parents. SETSEP is based on a tested model and best practices of the long-standing DAPCEP program in Detroit—a program noted for its excellence in preparing youth to be the future scientists and engineers of tomorrow.
The Development of Model-Based Reasoning project team conducted research on the origins and development of modeling in students from kindergarten through middle school. The research goal of the project, which is now completed, was to track the growth of students’ capability and propensity to take a modeling stance toward the world as they conducted long-term studies of local ecosystems (a pond, a restored prairie, a school forest) near their school. There was also an associated professional development agenda, namely, to work with approximately 40 participating teachers to craft and sustain forms of instruction that support students’ acquisition of both particular scientific models and a modeling epistemology. The purpose of the work was to develop a learning progression extended over the elementary and early middle school years and organized around fundamental concepts in the life sciences that culminate in a strong conceptual understanding of microevolution. Within the project, the team identified four core conceptual themes (variation, growth of organisms, growth of populations, and ecosystems) that collectively formed the basis of the progression and guided the curriculum and research design. Results of teaching studies with classrooms at each grade band were used to refine and revise the accounts of development. Yearly waves of data collection documented change over time in students’ understanding within the four conceptual themes, as well as changes in teachers’ instructional practices.
The FabLab Classroom is exploring use of digital fabrication to allow students to create digital designs that are realized as physical objects, such as model satellites (in collaboration with NASA), wind turbines, and speaker systems.
This project introduces fourth- and fifth-grade students and teachers to engineering design and associated science and mathematics concepts by developing and implementing a new, scalable, personal fabrication laboratory—the Classroom FabLab—and supporting curricular activities. Cornell University is developing the Fab@School 3-D fabricator to support the project. The goal is to develop an open-source fabricator for schools that can be assembled in an afternoon for less than $1,000 in materials. Aspex and FableVision are developing design software for these students. Classroom activities are being developed by the University of Virginia and Hofstra University. The University of Virginia and the University of North Texas are using these resources to introduce personal fabrication to pre-service teachers. The pre-service teachers subsequently have the opportunity to work with collaborating teachers in classrooms in Virginia and Texas. Participants include teacher education faculty, pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and K–12 students. The Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) is creating an online Digital Fabrication Library to house and disseminate the curriculum, activities, and digital designs.
In October 2011, WestEd and University of California Berkeley’s Career Academy Support Network (CASN) received a three-year collaborative ITEST Strategies grant to improve learning and workforce development in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and in information and communication technology (ICT)—especially for underserved students. The proposed strategy integrates the hands-on science pedagogy of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program into the multi-year curriculum of the California green high school academies . The GLOBE California Academy Program (CAP) engages students in research related to climate change, provides career development activities, and supports teachers in career academies through professional development and other forms of support that focus on the growing renewable energy and clean technology workforce sector.
The GLOBE California Academy Program (CAP) engages students in research related to climate change together with career development activities. Teachers are supported by professional development and other forms of support in career academies that focus on the growing renewable energy and clean technology workforce sector.
Philadelphia AMP, now in its 17th year of operation, represents a diverse tri-state partnership of public and private, two- and four-year, research and non-research, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and majority institutions. Established with funding from the National Science Foundation in 1994, the Alliance’s mission is to substantially increase the quantity and quality of African American, Hispanic, and Native American students earning baccalaureate and advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The participating institutions include Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia, Delaware State University, Drexel University, Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Temple University, the University of Delaware, and the University of Pennsylvania. Synergistic collaboration has been a unifying operational philosophy that informs practices across the Alliance with regard to minority undergraduate enrollment, retention, and the promotion of graduate study. As of June 2010, the Alliance has produced 8,400+ minority STEM B.S. degrees, 1,800+ minority STEM M.S. degrees, and 200+ minority STEM Ph.D. degrees since its inception. It has also moved six community college students to graduate study: two students have already received their Ph.D. degrees and have moved to post-doctoral appointments at the National Institute of Health and the University of Pennsylvania to continue their research in infectious diseases and neuroscience, respectively; two students have completed M.S. degrees and are employed in industry or educational research positions, and two students have attained Ph.D. degree candidacy status.
The Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch program focuses on increasing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline through an innovative underwater robotics program for middle and high school students. Students learn about STEM disciplines, with a focus on naval engineering, by building an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) called the SeaPerch. The culminating event is the Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch Challenge, jointly hosted by The American Society of Naval Engineers Delaware Valley Chapter, Drexel University, and NAVSEES Philadelphia. Students compete in a variety of robot performance challenges designed around a naval engineering mission. In addition to vehicle performance, students are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of STEM principles by communicating their design process and rationale to a panel of judges. Over the course of the past five years, the program has impacted over 1500 student from more than 150 teams, many of whom come from underrepresented backgrounds in urban school districts, representing four states. The foundation of this program is the partnership among academia, K–12 school districts, industry, professional societies, and federal agencies. This initiative is led nationally by Office of Naval Research (ONR) and The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).
The context of this ongoing study is a large-scale Math Science Partnership project (funded by the NSF) that aims to expand the minority-student pipeline into science fields in higher education. The project includes two different early-college/dual-enrollment programs for high school students, following different instructional models, which have been running for the past four years.