From Staff Reports
The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) recently released a STE(A)M Resource Hub for educators and families to use with students during COVID-19 related school closures.
The STE(A)M Resource Hub includes three weekly challenges around design activities, critical thinking, and career exploration that can all be done in the home. The challenges, created in partnership with TSIN educators from across the state, are ideal for students grades 3-12, but younger students can also participate with parental assistance. The STE(A)M Resource Hub also includes a portal for parents or educators to ask questions and receive additional support.
“Our school buildings may be closed, but the STE(A)M Resource Hub is another great example that learning can and will continue,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am thrilled the department is partnering with TSIN to provide these resources to help students keep learning, dreaming, and exploring during this time. Again and again, Tennesseans are proving we will come together to give our kids opportunities—despite challenging circumstances.”
“The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network is committed to continuing the important work of our STEM programs and partnerships, especially during this unique and challenging time. This crisis further highlights the critical nature of STEM education,” said Brandi Stroecker Director of Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. “Guiding students to be empathic listeners, inquisitive questioners, and innovative problem solvers prepares them to solve the pressing issues of tomorrow and to serve as the leaders of their generation. We are excited to partner with the Tennessee Department of Education to provide families with strong online STE(A)M resources to help children continue to experience new learning at home while promoting the importance of failing forward and developing a growth mindset.”
The three weekly challenges enable students to keep building their STE(A)M skills while learning from home. Each challenge comes with a step-by-step directions for the activity, as well as additional resources to continue exploring the topic. Families and educators are encouraged to use the corresponding hashtags to share their work on social media:
#MakerMonday: Resources focus on design activities for students using common objects found around the home to solve real-world challenges.
#WonderWednesday: Resources include researching and responding to essay prompts, examining data and drawing conclusions, and/or designing an experiment to answer a question.
#FutureFriday: Virtual resources for students to explore STEM careers. Students will experience virtual tours of STEM workplaces, video interviews of Tennesseans in interesting STEM careers, and explore the world of work.
“The field of STEM careers is vast and steadily growing – it doesn’t only mean being a mathematician or scientist. As Billie Jean King put it, ‘You have to see it to be it.’ Students and parents need to know all of the wonderful opportunities that are available out there within STE(A)M. Using this time at home to take virtual field trips and research possible careers is an excellent way to help students see all of the opportunities out there and to plan their future,” said Amanda McClusky, CTE Advisor for Shelby County Schools.
“The importance of STEM education for students has never been more important as parents are looking for creative ways to engage their children. Providing MakerSpace opportunities allows students to repurpose items they have at home that will engage in 21st Century learning. It is very important for educators to ensure challenges are created that will capture the imagination of students to become critical thinkers, collaborate with family, use creativity, and communicate their results to others,” said Ben Bruce, STEM Coordinator at Sumner County Schools.
“In the great state of Tennessee, we are fortunate to have leaders, such as the Department of Education and TSIN, forging new routes for students, families, and teachers to practice persistence and thinking flexibly as we continue to strive for excellence,” said Lea Bartch, Gifted Coordinator of Murfreesboro City Schools. “STEM thinking demonstrates that our success or failure is determined by the habits of mind, and these resources will help students continue developing strong habits that nurture wonder and curiosity.”
The STE(A)M Resource Hub is one more learning resource the department is providing to families and educators during school building closures—including free access for all families to early education platform ReadyRosie, daily instruction content available on Tennessee’s PBS stations, along with other guidance documents and resources developed specifically for district and school leaders available on the Tennessee Department of Education’s coronavirus webpage: https://www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/update-on-coronavirus.html.