Integrating Virtual Reality with the Superman Roller Coaster

“The Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster has been remade as a VR experience as riders strap on Samsung Galaxy Gear headsets” (Source).

Superman Ride of Steel

Talking Ed.: FIRST Robotics

Talking Ed.: FIRST Robotics

Talking Ed. with Tod Traughber

Episode 004 (View entire series)

The mission of FIRST is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership” (Source). The organization seeks to show students of every age that science, technology, and problem-solving are not only fun and rewarding, but are proven paths to successful careers and a bright future for us all.

Tod Traughber is one of my doctoral students and he coordinates the judges for one of the regional FIRST Robotics Competitions. In brief conversations here and there, Tod had been trying to convey to me just how amazing the organization is and how exciting the competitions are. I was blown away once we were able to dedicate some time to discuss nothing but FIRST. Their mission and activities are something that I believe many students, teachers, and schools would love to be a part of. Thus, I invited Tod to participate in the following interview in hopes that we could get this great information out to everyone.

Interest in Math and Science Careers Sparked in Classes Where Learning Is Directed by Students & Supported by Technology

This post is a follow-up to an earlier blog entry about the findings in the Speak Up 2011 report. The following information provides additional insights and comes from a press release from Project Tomorrow.

— — — — —

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Amber Taylor
703-201-4893, amber@sambertaylor.com

Just Nine Percent of Students Describe Their Most Recent Math and Science Classes This Way; More than 40 percent Still Describe Traditional Format

Washington, D.C. – Nearly one-third of high school students who experience math and science classrooms where instruction is led by teachers, learning is directed by students and where technology is used to support both, express a strong interest in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, according to the latest findings from the 2011 Speak Up survey (View as: HTML, PDF). Nationally, just nine percent of students described their most recent math or science class this way.

Only 20 percent of students in traditional classrooms, where the instruction is teacher directed and the use of technology is limited, expressed the same interest in STEM careers.

“This is the first time we’ve noticed this correlation between the type of math and science instruction and the students’ interest in STEM careers,” said Julie Evans. “For a nation concerned with developing the next generations of scientists, engineers and innovators, this finding should raise some eyebrows.”

When asked to describe their most recent math or science class, the majority of middle and high school students chose one of these three classroom paradigms:

  1. Traditional class with teacher-directed instruction – lectures, textbook assignments, group projects and labs (43 percent)
  2. Traditional class with teacher-directed instruction as in #1, but with some technology used to support instruction (33 percent)
  3. Traditional class with a mix of teacher-directed instruction and student-directed learning and the use of technology tools to support both teachers and students (9 percent)

“For three-quarters of today’s students in grades 6-12, math and science class is still much like it was when we adults were in school: predominately teacher-centered with little or no opportunities for students to direct their own learning, at their own pace, with their own tools,” said Evans.

“Think about that in contrast to what is being called for by the new Common Core Standards for math. The Common Core approach is based on teachers laying out a specific task and inviting the students to dig in and solve the problem using appropriate tools and resources,” explain Evans. “If our schools are able to implement this type of teaching and learning, the potential for interest in math and science should grow.”

These findings can be found in a Speak Up 2012 report, Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey – K-12 Students and Parents Connects the Dots with Digital Learning. That report and more can be accessed here: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/2012_PersonalizedLearning.html

This year’s survey findings also show:

  • Significant increase in students’ mobile Internet access outside of school with more than half of all students (urban, suburban and rural) reporting access through 3G/4G mobile devices.
  • Middle and high school students’ access to a personal tablet device doubled from 2010-2011 (26 percent of middle school and 21 percent of high school students now report personal access to a tablet).
  • Students are adopting technologies and then adapting them to support their own self-directed learning (tweeting about academic topics, tutoring other students online, using mobile apps to organize school work, used Facebook as a collaboration tool for classroom projects, etc.).

The 2011 online survey – completed by more than 416,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians and administrators – offers the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered input on education and technology from those ‘on the ground’ in the schools.

Now in its 9th year, the annual survey about education and technology is facilitated through public, private and charter schools all around the country; every school is eligible to participate. The results provide important insights about education, technology and student aspirations to individual schools, state departments of education and national leaders.

Since 2003, more than 2.6 million K-12 students, educators and parents from more than 35,000 schools in all 50 states have participated in Speak Up. The online survey is facilitated by Project Tomorrow and supported by many of our nation’s most innovative companies, foundations and nonprofit organizations including Blackboard, Inc., DreamBox, Hewlett-Packard, K12, Inc., Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative, Schoolwires and SMART Technologies.

Project Tomorrow partners with more than 75 different education associations, organizations and think-tanks for outreach to the schools and development of the survey questions including the American Association of School Administrators, Consortium for School Networking, iNACOL, International Society for Technology in Education, National School Boards Association, National Science Digital Library, National Secondary School Principals Association, Southern Regional Education Board and State Education Technology Directors’ Association.

About Project Tomorrow
Speak Up is a national initiative of Project Tomorrow, the nation’s leading education nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world. The Speak Up data represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder input on education, technology, 21st century skills, schools of the future and science instruction. Education, business and policy leaders report use the data regularly to inform federal, state and local education programs. For additional information, visit www.tomorrow.org.

 

Paper Airplane World Record

Former Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob sets world distance record for throwing a paper airplane. I saw this during SportsCenter and I instantly started thinking about all the learning and fun that could be generated with this video clip. The STEM teacher in me just loves this sort of thing.

 

Educational Connections

Use friendly competition as a motivational strategy and challenge teams of learners to design the paper airplane that will travel the greatest distance. We are seeing greater emphasis placed on design and engineering in STEM areas on a number of fronts (Common Core Standards, recent grant RFPs, etc.). This would be a way to provide students with practical experience with design, project management, and more.

Consider cranking the discovery learning up a notch by providing non-traditional materials available, too. Will an airplane made of an entire sheet of newspaper travel a greater distance? Does the addition of paperclips to a plane’s design impact results?

Think way outside the box and challenge teams to work together using only non-verbal communication. This can really spice things up and promote creativity and higher-order thinking. My students always enjoy this and usually astound me with their creative communication strategies.

Let’s not overlook some of the more traditional connections. This can be an organic way to provide students with practice with measurement using both standard and non-standards units. This could be coupled with data collection, data anlaysis and the presentation of results through graphs and tables.

Those are just a few connections. Please share your ideas in the comments.

Bill Nye Headlines 2011 Martin Institute Summer Conference

The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence is excited to announce that Bill Nye will be the keynote speaker for the 2011 Summer Conference.

About Bill Nye
Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life. “My family is funny,” he says, “I mean funny in the sense that we make people laugh, not just funny looking.” Bill discovered that he had a talent for tutoring in high school, and while growing up in Washington, DC. He spent afternoons and summers de-mystifying math for his fellow students. When he wasn’t hitting the books, Bill was hitting the road on his bicycle. He spent hours taking it apart to “see how it worked.” <Read More>

Featured Speakers
Other featured speakers at the Summer Conference include Tom Barrett (a.k.a. @tombarrett), 21st century educator from Nottingham, England; Vaija Wagle, Harvard University Project Zero Group Leader; Carol Vukelich, distinguished educator in early literacy; and Tiffany Boyd, literacy coach and consultant with Heinemann Publishing.

Registration
Registration details for the Summer Conference are forthcoming. Sign-up to receive an email notification once registration begins. The 2011 Summer Conference will be held on Wednesday, June 15 and Thursday June 16, 2011, in Memphis, TN, USA.

Suggested Reading: STEM Education

Texas Tech alumnus Rick Husband was the final ...
Image via Wikipedia

Overview

“The acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The STEM fileds are those academic and professional disciplines that fall under the umbrella areas represented by the acronym. According to both the United States National Research Council and the National Science Foundation, the fields are collectively considered core technological underpinnings of an advanced society. In many forums (including political/governmental and academic) the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself.”
(Source)


Suggested Reading

STEM at Work: Students become Physicians-in-Training

Where Will Your STEM Education Take You?

NASA Launches STEM Education Video Game

STEM Resources and Discovery Education


Tech & Learning’s Question of the Week

Which device do you think is best for 1:1?
Cast your vote.

Your Class Can Interact with Astronauts

NASA astronaut Mark Polansky, who will be commanding the next mission to the International Space Station, has just posted a video to NASA’s official YouTube channel inviting YouTubers and Twitter fans to take part in his next mission, submitting video questions via YouTube and following mission updates over Twitter.

To ask a question, Polansky says to create a video of around thirty seconds and post it to YouTube, then send it to his Twitter account using an @reply. He’ll respond to the questions on NASA TV, which is broadcast nation-wide. (Source)

I encourage you and your students to participate in this activity. It’s a rare opportunity. Who knows? You may have a future NASA astronaut, controller or engineer sitting in your class!