A RE@L Reprint!
Here’s a helpful “end of the school year blog” this week by RE@L guest-blogger, Anne Jolly.
It brought to mind that Nat King Cole standard that some of us may still recall:
“Summer is almost here and it’s time for kids to officially forget everything they learned during the school year. Right? Well, maybe not right….if schools, communities, and families keep the learning going.”
Here are some excerpts from Anne’s blog: “This summer plan to involve kids in creative and engaging learning. I’m campaigning for a Summer full of STEM fun – a sunny time filled with kids looking around (really looking) with curiosity. A summer in which kids ask questions, seek answers, and design solutions to problems.” She goes on to remind us of the many resources on the internet that can help kids regain their lost learning ground:
- 10 STEM Tips for Parents (Forward this link to your parents if you are a teacher.)
- How to Impart STEM Education to Your Children (This is another link to forward to parents)
- Helpful STEM Resources for Summer Planning (This will especially be useful for teachers.)
RE@L thinks these are great ideas. In fact our RE@L products will provide rapid access to such resources for teachers, students and even parents by using our new RE@L Portal for Learning Resources. Each user will have instant access to content, suggestions, lesson plans and ideas, project suggestions, quizzes, videos, links to those employed in STEM careers, oppotunities to do collaborative research with other students everywhere….even submitting their findings to various real-world STEM research projects. It’s like a virtual apprenticeship with master STEM workers, STEM teachers and other STEM learners.
RE@L puts a special emphasis on getting girls interested in STEM subjects. There are many opportunities for women in a broad range of STEM careers. Anne Jolly’s ideas are truly worth trying given the benefits. She also offers 8 relevant tips to make it happen.
- Find out what your kids are interested in and what problems they might like to solve. Some middle schoolers naturally gravitate toward the STEM subjects, while others may need more guidance identifying problems around their home and community this summer. Those issues may be in the environmental areas, health areas, construction and building areas, farming and crops, and so on.
- Display curiosity about things you see and show your own interest in learning. Your enthusiasm will be a great motivator for interesting children in STEM and problem-solving. Demonstrate how kids can engage with their curious world. For example, out loud in front of your kids, point out something that you are curious about and ask yourself thoughtful questions about it. Then make some informed guesses about what the answers to those questions might be. Think out loud so that your kids can hear how you think through possible solutions.
- Provide a stimulating and risk-free environment. Middle schoolers are definitely going to make mistakes when they try to solve STEM problems. They will most likely fail the first time or two they try to create a working device or usable solution. That’s okay. Heck, that’s even good! No one learns much from getting something right the first time. It’s the mistakes we make that keep us learning and growing. Let them know that “failure” is simply a normal step in the learning process. (Also remember that rapidly growing kids will find it difficult to learn if hungry or tired or upset.)
- Organize kids in small teams to work together on STEM projects and activities. Help them with interpersonal skills by building teamwork skills. You’ll find guidance for involving kids in teamwork here. Scroll to the bottom of the document and download it for free.
- Build interest in STEM areas.Talk with children about ways that STEM improves the quality of life. Make sure they can relate to the examples you pick. You might talk about curing illnesses, creating plastics that don’t pollute, developing increasingly powerful computers, developing improved skin and hair products, building attractive skyscrapers, or engineering new ways to bring clothing designs to the marketplace. STEM fields offer opportunities for everyone.
- Challenge your kids to conduct internet searches for interesting STEM activities. They can find these on their own using a search engine; or you might direct them to sites such as Discover Engineering, Design Squad Nation, National Geographic Activities and Games, and Bring Science Home. I’m excited about all of those sites, although not every activity is strictly a STEM activity – some are science experiments.
- Encourage your middle schoolers to start a STEM Club. They might start a local club or they could start a STEM group on a social network. Using social networks productively is a skill you can help them learn. (Tip: monitor, monitor, monitor!) Need someone to help you think through it? Marsha Ratzel (@ratzelster) uses Twitter highly effectively with her middleschoolers in STEM projects.
- And maybe The Best Fun Idea of all: Create a Maker Space for your kids.Check out this post on just how to do that. Reinvent Summer Learning: Make it Up!
Here’s the link toAnne Jolly’s STEM blog. We suggest you bookmark this site for the many other STEM resources she adds throughout the school year. Anne also has an excellent book on this topic available this summer for 20% off.
In Anne’s own words:” You can buy my book this summer for 20% off!” Just visit my book page at Routledge/Eye on Education.”
We at RE@L would be glad to post excerpts or ideas from any students, parents or teachers who try out these summer STEM tips.
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