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.
The recent NRC report emphasizes the important role that school leaders play in promoting and supporting STEM learning in their schools. They play a role in setting a vision for STEM learning and teaching, identifying and hiring highly qualified teachers, providing and/or identifying relevant professional development opportunities, and establishing and sustaining school structures that support high-quality instruction. EDC has been engaged in a long-standing program of research and development aimed at understanding the nature of “leadership content knowledge” in mathematics in school principals, and in creating professional development supports for principals and other school and district leaders to help them improve STEM learning. The core set of materials consis of Lenses on Learning professional development programs designed to support K–12 principals, teacher leaders, and district leaders to develop their instructional leadership by focusing on issues of equity, assessment, data use, and high-quality mathematics instruction. A number of districts and educational organizations have trained Lenses on Learning facilitators who offer professional development courses for administrators and district leaders as well as facilitator training institutes. In addition, the Lenses on Learning materials have been adapted for use in other programs that take a broader, systemic view on STEM learning and teaching. The development of the Lenses on Learning professional development materials was based on years of research about administrators’ knowledge about mathematics instruction and their professional practice supporting and supervising mathematics instruction in their schools. Although the Lenses on Learning materials predate the Common Core State Standards, they were designed around the same mathematical processes and proficiencies.
The long-term goal of the Living in Relations project is to improve science learning and school achievement for Native American children. Data from our project’s studies of children’s understandings of biology indicate that Native American children begin school with an advanced understanding of biology compared to their non-Native peers. This finding is also supported by early positive performance on standardized tests. However, this early overachievement is not sustained and leads to significant under-representation of Native American students in STEM fields. Understanding why and how this happens is a central purpose of our research. To do this, we explore the ways in which culture, cognition, and development are intertwined and impact teaching and learning, particularly at the epistemological level. In partnership with local Native American communities, our research team develops innovative science learning environments that build on students’ cultural ways of knowing to develop robust, engaging, and empowering learning environments for Native American students. While our work explores these issues in Native American communities specifically, our findings are applicable to other non-dominant students.
The mission of the Loudoun County Public Schools Academy of Science (AOS) is to provide an academic environment where students are encouraged to develop creative scientific endeavors of their own design, while having the opportunity to pursue a rich, well-rounded high school experience.
The LPPSync project (Learning Progress Profiles Synchronized for Networked Wireless Devices) at North Carolina State University is developing an Interactive Diagnostic Assessment System for K–8 mathematics. LPPSync integrates empirically validated mathematics learning trajectories with corresponding diagnostic assessments that focus on critical topics of rational number reasoning—the foundation of algebraic preparation. The environment is delivered through Web-browsers on mobile devices (tablets and laptop computers) via a centrally-hosted dynamic database on the North Carolina Education Cloud server system. Assessment results are instantaneously processed and scored, with feedback rapidly provided to teachers and students. LPPSync provides mathematics diagnostic tools for formative use, and provides explicit guidance to support instruction. The system includes a diagnostic, a practice, and a targeted intervention mode. In two modes, students can collaborate through chat and work-sharing tools. This exhibit will highlight the design, components, and research methodology and use model of the LPPSync system, and will include live access to the system’s diagnostic and practice features.
The Maker Movement is inspiring thousands of young people across the nation to tinker with and tackle problems involving design, engineering, and programming. There is a strong sense that young makers are accomplishing much more than producing objects—they also seem to be acquiring a host of valuable knowledge and skills. Because making is a relatively recent phenomenon, there are not yet frameworks in place for identifying and documenting these benefits to youth. What are makers learning? How is making changing the way young people engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.