Tag Archives: STEM

The Drivers of STEAM Education: Findings from Speak Up

Project Tomorrow has been conducting the Speak Up survey for 15 years now, collecting feedback from more than 5 million individuals during that time. We’ve been asking about STEAM (and STEM) issues over all those years. I was invited to present some of the STEAM findings in a webcast for the STEAM Universe: STEAM Research from the Front Lines: The Impact of STEAM on Teachers, Students, Administrators and Parents. You can find a recording of that session here:

As discussed during the webcast, these are some of the STEAM-related trends we’ve seen in recent years from our surveys of students, parents and educators:

  • Greater emphasis on students’ global skill preparation
  • New expectations from parents for skill development & digital learning
  • Value of personalized learning on the rise with new learning models
  • Students as content creators, not just consumers
  • Increasing criticality for connectivity at school and home
  • Learning as a 24/7 enterprise for students
  • Getting beyond assumptions & myths on career exploration

The webcast covered a number of topics, but I wanted to share some of the findings here behind what we see as four drivers of interest in and implementation of STEAM education:

1) Administrators’ desire to close the achievement gap and level the education playing field

Across all types of school districts (urban, suburban and rural), half of administrators told us that closing the achievement gap is one of the top issues that “wake them up at night.” And, when we asked what has the greatest potential to enhance their students’ achievement, their top four solutions were:

  • Enhancing teacher effectiveness
  • Integrating college and career ready skills within curriculum
  • Increasing STEM career exploration activities for students
  • Leveraging digital tools, products and solutions more effectively

When we look at these solutions, it is also important to look at some additional Speak Up feedback. For instance, no matter how we ask it, the top technology-related challenge that principals say they face is motivating teachers to change their practices to use technology in the classroom. Combine that with the top concern parents have about technology use in school – that technology use varies to much from teacher-to-teacher – and we see a common theme. (I wrote more about this issue earlier this year: Teachers’ Readiness and Willingness to Adopt Digital Tools for Learning.)

2) Parents’ concerns about their child’s future

Also driving STEAM education is parents’ growing concerns about their children being ready to compete in the future. We asked a more broad question of parents about what worries them about their child’s future. The top response was “My child is not learning the right skills in school needed to be successful in the future.” We were surprised to see this across the board: 58% of elementary school parents, 58% of middle school parents and 54% of high school parents. We also saw no difference in this finding when we looked at parents’ income levels or type of school (urban, suburban, rural). We even saw this in a survey we conducted in Mexico. It’s a global concern.

3) Need to integrate the development of college and career-ready skills into everyday curriculum

We asked parents and administrators about what the “right skills” are that students should be learning and we saw a lot of agreement.

workplace skills parents and administrators think students need

We also asked “what are the best ways for students to develop these “right skills?” Parents and administrators value the same experiences:

  • Work experience – job, internship, volunteering
  • Using technology regularly within school
  • Project-based learning experiences
  • Learning coding or computer programming
  • Taking advanced science and math courses
  • Taking career technical education courses
  • Doing real research or scientific experiments
  • Pursuing artistic or performance interests

4) Means to increase the effectiveness of the use of technology within the learning experience

And, that list leads us to the fourth driver we are seeing behind STEAM education. “Using technology regularly within school” was behind only work experience, according to parents and administrators, as the best way to learn the skills students will need in the future. Administrators tell me that STEAM education can be the means to increase the effectiveness of the use of technology within the learning experience. They see that STEAM education is a way to realize greater impact and to be able to measure that impact more effectively.

Speak Up 2017 includes new questions about why math matters, how students can best learn math concepts and interest in STEAM careers. We look forward to learning from all of the education stakeholders who will share their views between now and January 2018, and in sharing those national findings.

Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education: Current Status and Aspirations

Augmented and virtual reality in K-12 classrooms is still predominantly in pilot implementations. Last year, Project Tomorrow released an evaluation of one such pilot in San Diego to look into how an augmented reality environment is helping high school students develop greater awareness about and interest in STEAM careers.

The opening of a high school on two floors of a new library in San Diego offered a unique opportunity to develop an augmented reality pilot program to encourage and support STEAM learning. The STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project was developed as a collaboration between the San Diego Public Library Foundation, San Diego Public Library, e3 Civic High and Qualcomm Wireless Reach. Project Tomorrow was contracted to do an evaluation of the project to examine the relationship between the augmented reality app and student outcomes.

Given that today’s students are interested in learning that is contextually relevant, the STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project was designed to take advantage of the unique architecture of the library dome to provide 9th grade students an enriched learning experience. Using Qualcomm® technology, the project focused on leveraging augmented reality content that utilized mobile, context-aware 4G technologies to allow the students to interact with digital information embedded within the library’s physical environment focusing on science, math, engineering and art related content. Similar to augmented reality used by construction teams to visualize a building prior to construction, students learned about the construction of the new library while learning the STEAM concepts associated with each structural element.

Our evaluation found:

  • The majority of the students agreed that using the 4G tablet with the augmented reality content increased their engagement in learning about the Central Library Dome.
  • The students ascribed many benefits to the learning experience including increased enjoyment in learning, ability to work on the content with their classmates, and being more interested in the dome structure and architecture than they first envisioned.
  • Four out of 10 students said that they were more interested in exploring a STEAM career field after having this mobile learning experience.
  • The teachers participating in the project believe that the mobile augmented reality environment could be used successfully to impact student learning in many other academic areas with a closer alignment with curriculum.

That work in San Diego informed new questions on Speak Up 2016 designed to learn more about the current use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in classrooms around the country, and about how students, parents and educators are thinking of these learning tools for the future. (Some of this data was released in T.H.E. Journal this month.)

Current Use of AR and VR in the Classroom

  • 5 percent of teachers say they are using AR or VR in their classroom. This was the same no matter the size or type of school district and years of teacher experience. We did see a higher percentage of computer science/technology (11 percent) and science teachers (9 percent) in high schools using AR or VR.
  • 9 percent of students in Grades 6-8 and 8 percent of students in Grades 9-12 say they have experienced AR or VR in a classroom setting.

AR and VR figure prominently in students’ vision for their ultimate school – more so than for parents and teachers at this time. Note there is higher interest reported among school librarians and district administrators, particularly those from small districts (those with >5,000 students).

AR and VR figure prominently in students’ vision for their ultimate school.

View Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education Infographic

When asked about what they need to use digital content, tools and resources more successfully in the classroom, teachers cite three key elements:

  • Classroom set of devices (56 percent)
  • Consistent technical support for classroom usage (49 percent)
  • Professional development on effective instructional practices with that digital content (48 percent)

It makes sense therefore that in regards to using AR and VR in the classroom, teachers are starting to call for specific professional development to support their efforts. An emerging cohort of teachers (approximately 1 in 8 teachers or 13 percent) says they would like PD on how to use AR or VR in the classroom. Districts are also recognizing the importance of PD on the use of AR and VR in the classroom with 20 percent of district administrators saying that type of professional learning for teachers is a priority for this year.

Our final report on the STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project concluded, “This evidence supports the idea that to stimulate and nurture STEAM career interest, the learning experiences need to replicate the inherent characteristics of STEAM content and processes. In other words, students need to be able to use advanced technologies such as 4G wireless connectivity and augmented reality, and have access to contextually relevant content to explore potential career interests.”

As Speak Up shows, the students are again ahead of most education leaders when it comes to the potential for augmented and virtual reality to spark and support learning.

Download Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education: Current Status and Aspirations Speak Up 2016 Findings.

Scholarship opportunity for high school seniors in Orange County, CA and Salt Lake County, UT

Are you or do you know a high school senior in Orange County, California and Salt Lake County, Utah who will be pursuing a STEM Bachelor’s Degree? Check out this scholarship opportunity from our friends at Edwards Lifesciences:

Edwards Lifesciences is passionate about improving the quality of life around the world and strengthening the communities in which we live and work. The Edwards Lifesciences Scholarship Program was launched to increase access to higher education and to promote careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Through this program, 10 Orange County, California and Salt Lake County, Utah high school seniors pursuing STEM bachelor’s degrees will be selected to receive a four-year scholarship totaling $10,000 ($2,500 per year) from The Edwards Lifesciences Fund. In addition, the scholarship recipients will have an opportunity to visit the Edwards Lifesciences campus in Irvine or Draper and apply for internship opportunities with the company.

Scholarship Criteria:
Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a current high school senior who is a resident of Orange County, California or Salt Lake County, Utah
  • Plan to enroll in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university for the 2015-2016 academic year pursuing a major in a STEM field
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Note: Children of Edwards Lifesciences employees are eligible to apply

Important Dates:

  • March 2015 – Scholarship application available for 2015 -2016 academic year
  • April 11, 2015 – Application deadline
  • By May 31, 2015 – Scholarship Recipients Announced
  • July 30, 2015 – Scholarship Award Ceremony at Edwards’ corporate headquarters in Irvine
  • August 2015 – First half of scholarship mailed to students ($1,250)
  • December 2015 – Second half of scholarship mailed to students ($1,250)

Obama announces over $240 million in pledges at White House Science Fair

Yesterday at the 2015 White House Science Fair, President Obama announced over $240 million in pledges to inspire more students – especially those from underrepresented groups – to pursue education in science, technology, engineering, and math. Included in Obama’s announcement were:

  • $150 million philanthropic effort to empower a diverse cadre of promising early-career scientists to stay on track to become scientific leaders of tomorrow;
  • $90 million “Let Everyone Dream” campaign to expand STEM opportunities to under-represented youth;
  • $25 million Department of Education competition to create science and literacy themed media that inspires students to explore;
  • 120 universities and colleges committing to train 20,000 engineers to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of 21st century; and,
  • CEO coalition Change the Equation committing expand effective STEM programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year.
This year’s White House Science Fair focused on diversity and included students from underrepresented backgrounds. The Fair also featured more women and girls in science than in previous years, with over 100 students from more than 30 states. Among the participants were a high school student from Arizona who created an algorithm to identify other medical applications for existing drugs, a student from Pennsylvania who designed an innovative carbon-dioxide powered battery, and a group of 6-year-old “Supergirls” who invented a batter-powered page turner to help people with disabilities read books.
To learn more about the White House Science Fair and yesterday’s events, watch the video above or visit the White House Science Fair’s homepage and the fact sheet about Obama’s new STEM commitments.

Memo #1 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 23, 2015
According to Dr. Patience Stephens, Director/Special Advisor on Education for UN-Women, it is no longer appropriate or tolerable to do a minimalist job of providing girls and women with the tools they need to improve their lives – most notably with a second-class education. What a true statement – so obvious, but still not reality, especially not in many places around the globe.  With that inspiration and a call to more fully examine how mobile devices in particular can enable and empower change for girls and women, this year’s Mobile Learning Week 2015 was off to a great start.  Today was the workshop day of the weeklong event and I was honored to be chosen from a field of 70 proposals to lead one of the 12 workshops today.  Additionally, our good friend, Dr. Kari Stubbs, Vice President of Innovation and Learning at BrainPOP asked me to participate in her workshop to provide Speak Up research support.  It was a fun and exciting day examining the intersections of STEM, digital learning, games, coding, mobile devices – and girls!  I am excited to share with you 2 big takeaways based upon the workshops today that I hope may lead to deeper discussions on these important issues in your schools, districts, organizations and communities. If they do, I would love to hear back from you!
Take-away #1:  The morning workshop was led by the BrainPOP team and focused on girls’ interest in playing learning games, creating their own games, and learning how to code using mobile devices. Speak Up data provided the contextual background for many of the learning experiences within this workshop.  What I especially liked was the high level of audience participation and interactivity within the workshop.  Participants had multiple opportunities to play different kinds of games and even try their hand at coding.  While playing learning games is always fun, the play/learn experiences was grounded in examining the content through the lens of gender-sensitivity.  While it may seem easy to identify Game X as a “boy-oriented” game and Game Y as “girl-focused,” the audience quickly realized that those superficial stereotypes were inconclusive.  Using a guide developed by Project Tomorrow for this workshop, the participants had a chance to do a deeper dive as game and content evaluators and in the process, learned a lot of about their own biases and potential blindness to gender issues in digital content, games and other instructional materials.  The guide is available with other workshop materials at http://www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.   We already know that the inclusion of mobile devices increases student engagement in learning. But what if we could prove that using mobile devices helps create more gender-responsive, transformative learning environments for all students?    We have much more work to do in this arena but I was excited to see the level of interest in this topic amongst the Mobile Learning Week attendees.
Take-away #2:  In the afternoon workshop, the focus was on how to design, implement and evaluate a gender-sensitive mobile learning project.  I led this workshop with support this time from Dr. Stubbs. Based upon Project Tomorrow research in this area, we shared a new way of thinking about the evolution of a mobile planning project from a gender-sensitivity perspective, starting from the identification of your project purpose through the synthesis of research data to share with stakeholders.  But first we had to review what we meant by gender-sensitivity.  A simplified version is basically becoming more aware of gender norms, roles and relationships and how those inherent or un-intended biases or opinions influences students’ learning. The real goal here is to develop new mobile learning projects that recognize gender issues and then, strategically and deliberately create ways to minimize the impact of any gender-blind or unequal priorities or values. As you might imagine these workshop topics instigated new questions and ideas about understanding and identifying gender-sensitivity.  Several points that the audience made on this topic intrigued me; I need to do more thinking on several of the points raised. However, several questions came up as to whether the goal of gender-sensitivity was to right the wrongs of the past in terms of unequal learning opportunities for girls, or to aim for how gender issues can be mitigated to the point of truly equal education for all genders. Both approaches are important to consider especially because in some communities, there is an emerging “boy crisis” where male students are feeling like second class citizens in their schools and that perception is affecting their school performance.  Sound familiar?  So, how do we really design, implement and evaluate new mobile learning projects that enable girls to reach for the stars in educational opportunities while not dashing the dreams and aspirations of their brothers?   I have a few suggestions.  Check out the PowerPoint from today’s workshop.  Spoiler alert – the powerpoint includes brand new data findings from Speak Up 2014. Review, enjoy and pass it on: http://www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html.
Tuesday is the first day of the two day Mobile Learning Symposium.  The Symposium includes inspiring keynotes and plenary sessions – and a myriad of small, TedTalk like sessions on all kinds of topics related to girls, women and mobile learning.  It is going to be a full day.  Be part of the experience by following me on Twitter (@JulieEvans_PT).  I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow my new learnings from this event in our Memo #2 from Mobile Learning Week 2015!

U.S. students slowly improving in math and science

Last month, the Pew Research Center released data showing that although U.S. students are slowly improving in math and science, they still are behind in the subjects when compared to other countries.

Only 29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 STEM education as above average; scientists were even more critical, with only 16% of American Association of the Advancement of Science members calling K-12 STEM education above average. Despite these low percentages, U.S. students are slowly improving in math and science, scoring higher on national assessments than they did two decades ago. However, the U.S. still has more work to do when compared internationally, as they still rank in the middle and behind several other nations.
Among these cross-national assessments is the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which measures reading ability, math and science literacy, and other skills every three years; in 2012, the U.S. placed 35th out of 64 countries in math, and 27th in science (see below photo). Another assessment is the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which tests students every four years, placed the U.S. in the top ten countries

STEM_pisa
Interested in reading more? Check out the original article, “U.S. students improving – slowly – in math and science, but still lagging internationally” by Drew Desilver and check out the Pew Research Center’s official website. You can learn more about the most recent PISA results by reading our old blog post, “PISA Results
Here at Project Tomorrow, our vision is to ensure that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.  We believe that by supporting the innovative uses of science, math and technology resources in our K-12 schools and communities, students will develop the critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills needed to compete and thrive in the 21st century. You can learn more about us and our various programs at http://www.tomorrow.org/

Exciting STEM opportunity for high school students

To encourage more students to purse the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Edwards Lifesciences Foundation is sponsoring two scholarships for high school students (incoming juniors and seniors) to participate in the Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology at UCI’s CardioStart program.

This six-week program will take place between July 6 and August 14, 2015 and teaches students to explore the worlds of cells and tissue biology beyond the textbook through hands-on, bench top and research projects. Please see the above flyer and visit http://cardiovascular.eng.uci.edu/cardiostart to learn more.

Students 16 and over with a minimum GPA of 3.0 may apply by emailing cardio@uci.edu and requesting an application form. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 2, 2015.

Reminder: Free seminars for Southern California Educators this month!

The Tiger Woods Learning Center, Discovery Cube and PITSCO are collaborating together to offer two FREE seminars for Southern California Educators this January, 2015.
On Wednesday, January 21st, a Mathematics and Engineering Seminar will be offered for 6th – 10th grade teachers. In this seminar, educators have the opportunity to assume the role of students and participate in fun mathematics and engineering activities.
 
On Thursday, January 22nd, a STEM Seminar will be offered for 4th – 6th grade teachers. In this seminar, educators will have the opportunity to learn about high quality STEM experiences by engaging in the same activities their students will experience in their classrooms.

 

These FREE seminars enable teachers to learn more effectively by engaging them in the same activities their students will experience in their classrooms. Workshops will focus directly on STEM connections that teachers will lead their students through. Teachers will experience a blend of pedagogy and hands-on application to build their confidence in delivering powerful STEM activities to their students.

Click here to register for the Mathematics and Engineering Seminar
Click here to register for the STEM Seminar

Free seminars for Southern California Educators in January 2015

The Tiger Woods Learning Center, Discovery Cube and PITSCO are collaborating together to offer two FREE seminars for Southern California Educators this January, 2015.
On Wednesday, Jan. 21st, a Mathematics and Engineering Seminar will be offered for 6th – 10th grade teachers. In this seminar, educators have the opportunity to assume the role of students and participate in fun mathematics and engineering activities.
 
On Thursday, Jan. 22nd, a STEM Seminar will be offered for 4th – 6thgrade teachers. In this seminar, educators will have the opportunity to learn about high quality STEM experiences by engaging in the same activities their students will experience in their classrooms.

 

These FREE seminars enable teachers to learn more effectively by engaging them in the same activities their students will experience in their classrooms. Workshops will focus directly on STEM connections that teachers will lead their students through. Teachers will experience a blend of pedagogy and hands-on application to build their confidence in delivering powerful STEM activities to their students.

Click here to register for the Mathematics and Engineering Seminar
Click here to register for the STEM Seminar

The 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Math and Science is TOMORROW!

Our 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Math and Science takes place tomorrow, October 25th at Edwards Lifesciences. All students in Orange County, CA are invited to attend the summit and learn about different careers in STEM. This free half-day event includes a student presentation, panel discussions from industry leaders and a diverse group of engineers, tabletop exhibits to introduce students to local opportunities and college programs, and breakout sessions led by business and education leaders.

We are proud to announce this year’s highly distinguished list of speakers and panelists for the 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit! Check out the list below: 

Anton Anderson from IT Consulting
Ashaunta Anderson from the University of California, Riverside/RAND
Jim Aralis from Microsemi
Celeste Bonyuet from Edwards Lifesciences
Carmella Cassetta from Advancing Women in Technology
John Chamberlain from Emulex Corporation
Amy Choi from Railpros
Corporal Decasanova from the United States Colonial Marine Corps
Jess Gillespe from Astronics Corporation
Christy Haley-Stover from Advancing Women in Technology
Matt Hannus from Sleepy Giant
Ed Hernandez from Tustin High School
Kim Homa from Kaiser Permanente
Kevin Hostert from the Municipal Water District of Orange County
David Johnson from Astronics Corporation
Joanna Laird from the University of California, Irvine
Mark Mathews from Airwolf 3D
Tim McCan from Impact Fire Services
Stacy McGoldrick from Cal Poly Pomona
Susan Medley from the University of California, Irvine
Octavie Ramsey from Southern California Edison
Nayssan Safavian from Project Tomorrow and the University of California, Irvine
Shawna Shaffner from CAA Planning
Karen Thomas from LPA, Inc.
JJ Wang from Boeing
Jimmy Zhong from NASA
 
Click here to learn more about the Youth Leadership Summit for Math and Science. We look forward to seeing you there!