Exemplary Programs in Successful STEM Education

The following resources are examples of programs and projects—many of which are funded by the National Science Foundation—that outline elements that contribute to successful STEM education, and that also are aligned with the recommendations of the National Research Council reports, Successful K-12 STEM Education and Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.
A contentious debate is occurring in the educational community over the role in pre-school and kindergarten of early direct academic instruction vs. a less structured environment incorporating more play. New research is addressing this question by showing that structured play with arts & crafts and games may build foundational skills that are critical to later math achievement. Skill deficits in these foundational skills may be the source of math achievement gaps for children at risk that are present at pre-school and continue throughout schooling. Such gaps are one contributor to the low incidence of such children in STEM learning and careers. This presentation will focus on recent research that may help to explain why so little progress has been made closing achievement gaps and a new direction for closing gaps.
Equal Access, Presentation, Chicago Workshop
Co-curricular programs complement the formal curriculum and often have sessions outside of the regular school day. A review of evaluation reports from afterschool Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, both co-curricular and extra-curricular, by the Afterschool Alliance found that students attending these programs had improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers; increased STEM knowledge and skills; and had a higher likelihood of graduating and pursuing a STEM career. Afterschool programs can provide a safe place for students to explore a STEM field, which contributes to student gains in intellectual skills and temperament to become a scientist.
Equal Access, Project or Program, Las Vegas Workshop
One of the country’s most successful programs of its kind, Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) provides academic support for thousands of educationally disadvantaged students so they can excel in math and science and graduate with baccalaureate degrees in science, engineering, computer science, and other math-based fields.
Equal Access, Project or Program, Seattle Workshop
The need for research-based recommendations for mathematics instruction for English learners (ELs), aligned with the <em>Common Core State Standards (CCSS), cannot be overstated. The recommendations focus on improving mathematics learning and teaching through language for all students, and especially for ELs. Although it is difficult to make generalizations about the instructional needs of all students who are learning English, instruction should be informed by knowledge of students’ experiences with mathematics instruction, language history, and educational background (Moschkovich, 2010). In addition, research suggests that high-quality instruction for ELs that supports student achievement has two general characteristics: a view of language as a resource rather than a deficiency and an emphasis on academic achievement, not only on learning English (Gándara & Contreras, 2009).
Equal Access, Project or Program, Las Vegas Workshop
Metro Early College High School opened its doors six years ago with 96 freshmen representing the 15 school districts in Franklin County, Ohio. Today, Metro, still a lottery-based public STEM school, offers students an accelerated course load with problem-based real-world experiences. After students complete the Core coursework, they select a themed Learning Center that is taught by Metro teachers in conjunction with experts in that field. Here, students begin to explore college coursework, as well as participate in in-depth real-world challenges based on the theme of the center. In addition, each of Metro’s Learning Centers has been developed in partnership with and is housed within other city schools within Franklin County. The end goal, after two years, is for the Learning Center to become an embedded component of each partner school district in order to maximize the schools impact on the community.
Equal Access, Presentation, Chicago Workshop
Model My Watershed is a three-year project aimed at developing, testing, and disseminating a watershed-modeling toolset for secondary students. Designed to build on Google Earth, this tool provides a dynamic interface where students can add data, modify environmental conditions, work in a collaborative online learning environment, and be exposed to STEM careers. The design is based on the belief that students should have an authentic, exciting, intuitive, and interactive tool set that allows them to investigate their own neighborhoods. The investigations challenge students to make real-world decisions based on scientific knowledge and models. The project uses the complexity of environmental science to engage and excite students about the diverse STEM careers that are necessary to study and address environmental issues. Using existing scientific data in an authentic, hydrologic modeling toolset, students learn to predict how environmental changes to the ecosystem affect the hydrologic cycle in their local watersheds. In addition to being able to modify the underlying environmental conditions, students can modify their watershed by implementing best-management practices such as green roofs and porous pavement. A collaborative Web-based communication platform is used to network teams of students and schools to pose questions or challenges and communicate their findings. The project will directly impact 25 teachers and 1000 students in the Philadelphia area with plans for national dissemination.
Exhibit, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice was funded by the National Science Foundation to develop a middle school ecology unit and professional development program that models the three-dimensional learning envisioned in the Framework for K–12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
San Francisco Workshop, Project or Program
The Franklin Institute is committed to engaging teachers, students, and families in science learning. Parent Partners in School Science (PPSS) was developed by The Franklin Institute, in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, as a science education and parent involvement program, with the goal of connecting a child’s home and school life through science learning. Through events and take-home activities, adults and children think about their everyday lives like scientists—questioning, observing, testing, and experimenting with the world around them. PPSS strives to develop resources that are engaging, non-threatening, and fun for adults and children. Further, PPSS provides resources to elementary school teachers to bolster science learning and parent involvement. PPSS materials are linked to the School District of Philadelphia’s science curriculum. PPSS is intended to meet the needs of teachers implementing the science curriculum and parents who want to support what their children are learning in science class. In addition to PPSS, The Franklin Institute works closely with schools through its partnership with The Science Leadership Academy, an inquiry-driven, project-based high school focused on 21st century learning and teacher professional development opportunities offered throughout the city and region.
Presentation, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
Opened in 2009, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® School…Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Learning is designed to be a unique and comprehensive STEM middle school that promotes problem-based learning. The Akron STEM School is unique in its ability to partner not only with local businesses and institutions, but also with national organizations. Instruction by local engineers and world-renowned inventors is built into the curriculum. Every part of the school day—from classroom learning and assignments to daily activities—incorporates the spirit of Akron, a philosophy of innovation and creativity.
Effective Instruction, Presentation, Chicago Workshop
The world economy is rapidly outpacing America’s development of STEM talent. Our students must learn more, do more, and create more. To meet this challenge, thousands of STEM professionals are ready to join forces with new and accomplished teachers to develop the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders we need to thrive in a global economy.
Supportive Infrastructure, Project or Program, Las Vegas Workshop