Makerspace Encourages Kids to Explore, Create

Ten-year-old Caroline Scheckter looks at ordinary household items in a new way since attending workshops at the Makerspace located in SUMCD’s Center for School-Age Development in Lewisburg. “Now when I see a piece of cardboard I think we could make a painting out of that,” the Lewisburg girl said. Scheckter regularly joins a group of children in Josh Wagner’s class where they are encouraged to create and explore. Wagner, the co-founder and head teacher of the afterschool program that opened in March, integrates STEAM in the projects they tackle such as building boats and robots.

During a visit to the Makerspace, Betsy Saatman, a technical assistance specialist for Pennsylvania Key, a state organization that works on behalf of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, lauded the “unique facility” for offering programs that challenge children. “The idea isn’t new, but there are few that have a dedicated space for it,” she said. “It’s where we’re going in education. Kids have to be able to think out of the box, to get out of their comfort zone and learn from mistakes.”


JetBlue Foundation and Project Scientist Empower the Next Generation of Girls in STEM

JetBlue announced the latest collaboration between the JetBlue Foundation and Project Scientist to introduce STEM education and aviation careers to girls from traditionally under-represented communities. Project Scientist’s STEM Expedition Summer Academy is geared towards girls ages four to 12 and includes behind-the-scenes looks at STEM-focused companies and college programs. During these summer camps, girls learn directly from women in STEM fields.


First Of Christa Mcauliffe’s Lost Lessons Released From Space

The first of Christa McAuliffe’s lost lessons was finally released from space, 32 years after she died aboard Challenger. NASA and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education posted a video of astronaut-educator Ricky Arnold performing one of McAuliffe’s experiments aboard the International Space Station. Many teachers have worked to make this possible, she noted, “but you give us the culmination of the dream for Christa’s lessons to come to life.”


Why This Student-Run YouTube Club Is About More Than Making Videos

Two years ago when Erick Hanson migrated from history teacher to media specialist he had one big goal in mind: to make the library cool again. “If kids weren’t coming into the library to check out books because they need the information or they just want to read for leisure, where are they going instead?” says Hanson, who works at Pennsylvania’s East Pennsboro School District, near Harrisburg. “It didn’t take long for me to boil that down to YouTube as the major place where they’re consuming content,” says Hanson. “So the idea came about to turn our student consumers into creators.” That year he began EP Media, an afterschool YouTube club for both middle and high school students that has blossomed into one of the district’s most hands-on, student-driven initiatives.

Along the way, students are picking up plenty of soft skills like collaboration and creativity that Hanson prizes, in addition to marketable skills such as using professional-grade cameras, video-enabled drones for aerial shots and Final Cut editing software. “I pride myself on the fact that this program is so much more than about videos,” Hanson says. “It’s about these real-world learning experiences.” Case in point: students are encouraged to play leadership and team-member roles, often juggling both at once as they navigate several projects.


Coming This Fall to Montour School District: America’s First Public School AI Program

“The artificial intelligence field was invented, nurtured, and developed at Carnegie Mellon University in the 1950’s. Since then, Pittsburgh has proudly stood at the forefront of relevant developments and scholarly discussions surrounding AI. It is only instinctive, then, that the Montour School District would offer the nation’s first public school program in artificial intelligence,” surmised Dr. Christopher Stone, Superintendent, Montour School District.
Students will be taught and exposed to a variety of content including Data Literacy, Autonomous Robotics, AI Virtual Assistant and STEM Inquiry skills. In addition, students will learn about AI Ethics, Moonshot Thinking and Career Awareness. The arts will also be part of Montour AI’s program, spearheaded by Amper Music. Amper Music is an artificial intelligence composer, performer, and producer that empowers you to instantly create and customize original music for your content.


Skyping With a Scientist in Iceland Spices Up Teachers in the Park Summer Program

The five-week summer learning program Teachers in the Park was provided by the Boyertown Education Foundation with a donation from Ambler Savings Bank. A total of 40 students participated in the program. Tessi Melchior, the foundation’s executive director, said the program helps to prepare students for the upcoming school year.


Launching a Maker Learning Leadership Cohort in the Pittsburgh Region

Earlier this month, teachers and administrators from ten schools gathered to kick off a yearlong journey in the Maker Learning Leadership Cohort. This regional effort convenes educators who are committed to maker learning and aims to amplify maker learning’s impact on student outcomes while making it more sustainable for schools and equitable for all students. Grounded in the lessons learned from a year-long pilot with a national cohort of schools and the development of the Maker Learning Leadership Framework, this cohort program is dedicated to professional learning, peer connections and school transformation in the Pittsburgh region.


Girls-Only Trade Classes Are Spreading and Upending Stereotypes

High school auto mechanics teacher Kristina Carlevatti has been teaching auto repair for six years now at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a booming automotive industry has produced plenty of jobs. Boys dominated the shop courses until Carlevatti started an all-girls Intro to Auto class this past school year. Girls-only trade classes like Carlevatti’s are gaining traction, and the timing is right. A shortage of skilled workers is driving up wages in the trades, especially in traditionally male-dominated professions such as auto repair, construction and welding. High schools like Myers Park have found that when they offer female-only trade courses, the girls sign up.


Voices for STEM Education: A Survey of Formal and Informal STEM Education Advocates

This study will help Texas Tech University learn how you interpret STEM education advocacy to build an understanding of who STEM advocates are and how they can make a bigger difference in STEM education. What they learn may help educators have a greater voice in STEM education, and they hope to publish this study widely to make it as beneficial as possible.


Governor Wolf Signs Executive Order to Improve Job, Skills Training as Part of PAsmart Initiative

Earlier this month, Governor Tom Wolf was joined by labor and business leaders, including Microsoft, and several cabinet secretaries to launch the next phase of PAsmart, a first-of-its-kind $30 million investment in workforce development. During the press conference in York, the governor signed an executive order to cut red tape and improve coordination between several state agencies to more effectively deliver workforce development services to Pennsylvanians. “PAsmart is bringing together labor, industry, the tech sector, education, state government and more to connect people of all ages with STEM and computer science education, apprenticeships and other training needed to get good, middle class jobs,” said Governor Wolf.


Where Are All the Women Apprentices?

Apprenticeships date to the Middle Ages, but modernized versions of the workforce training programs are spreading as a way to combine classroom and on-the-job instruction. In at least one respect, however, the programs still seem less-than-modern: gender and racial equity. Apprentices earn a wage while gaining skills. But that wage tends to be considerably lower for female apprentices than males, according to a new study by the Center for American Progress.


Can Individual Tests Really Measure Collaboration?

At the end of next school year, thousands of high school students will sit down at individual workstations, laptops in hand, for an end-of-course exam. But in a rather novel twist this one’s not just about what you know—but also what you can figure out. That is the idea at least behind the latest summative assessments from Project Lead the Way, a project-based STEM curriculum, which is introducing new tech-based question types to measure a raft of noncognitive skills from collaboration to general problem solving (in addition to subject-specific questions about engineering or coding.


OCDEL Policy Fellowship: 2018-19 Cohort

Deadline: August 10, 2018
The Fellowship intends to grow the candidacy pool of future leaders in Pennsylvania’s early learning system at the state and local levels, and ultimately, strengthen the quality of the system to better serve children, families and providers.


Senate CTE Bill Needs More STEM Focus

James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition, released the following statement on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee moving legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act: “We are pleased the Senate HELP Committee has advanced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. This bill and its House counterpart would modernize this crucial education and workforce law including increasing the alignment of CTE programs with the demands of our increasingly technological economy. However, our Coalition would like to see an even stronger emphasis on STEM subjects and activities, and greater openness to eligible consortiums with youth-serving STEM entities and non-profits in the final law and we are committed to working with House and Senate leaders to achieve that goal.”


Guest Blog: Inspiring New Mexico’s Youth STEMbassador Program

By Julie Hernandez, STEM Afterschool Expansion VISTA for New Mexico. Science introduced me to a world of possibilities. I see scientists as modern day explorers, discovering worlds we’ve never seen and providing answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask. Science also provided a way for me to break free of the limitations society set on me as a first-generation American Hispanic woman. Throughout my education I had mentors who encouraged me and guided my journey, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I’d never had a mentor who was a woman — and most of my peers looked nothing like me. It was a harsh realization that made me question the path I was on. Why would I want to pursue a career that doesn’t seem to want me? It is necessary to help change the narrative of who is invited into the STEM world. I’m grateful to all the women in STEM that paved the way for me to pursue a career in science, and I wanted to pick up the baton and do my part to encourage girls and other young women to pursue STEM.