Monday
Jun042012

Blueprint 4STEM from Scottsdale 

This article oulines one school's process in creating an Elementary STEM program. There is great information about their story, what has worked, where they found challenges, and the evolution. Thank you to Navajo Elementary School for sharing. We hope you find insight and ideas for your STEM school. 

Wednesday
May022012

We'd like to share just SOME of the amazing activities occurring in Arizona

When asked to share their story, Next Steps received not one but several pieces of amazing STEM work occurring in the greater Phoenix, AZ communities.  The article is available here. For more information abou the Navajo Elementary School and Saguaro High School robotcs teams, please read on

The Saguaro Robotics Team ready to rock the mat!

Thursday
Apr052012

New Poll Shows Strong Support for Improving Science Education

Voters believe better science and math education is critical to economic success, according to a poll recently released by Achieve. The press release and survey results can be found here.  

Tuesday
Nov082011

Story telling is an art and a science

And we have asked for you to share your story. Share your thoughts, passions, testimonials with us as a way to demonstrate what hands-on science, STEM, inquiry-based education can do for your learners. Data can point to successes, but the story and magic of learning is what makes our content come alive! And it's only fair to begin by sharing my short story. 

Changing the how to why

How often do we jump into an idea or problem, keen on finding the right answer, quickly in order to move onto our next task?  Should the question more appropriately read, why often do we jump into an idea or problem, keen on finding the right answer, quickly in order to move onto our next task?

When looked at it from the culture of why, the first question seems silly, because it clearly articulates our misconceptions about learning and problem solving. In education, we have created a culture of how. The purposeful nature of a task is disregarded in order to find the right answer that will be praised and satisfy our desire to succeed. This is a big one for me; I picture the eye rolling from those of you that know my achiever as you read these lines. Lest I digress, where did the culture of how come from? We have a generation of students growing up in an academic landscape that prides itself on test scores and accountability, we have a globalized society that creates new information exponentially faster than the last generation, and most importantly we live in a world distractions. We are rewarded for finding one ‘right’ answer while challenged for asking too many questions. This pace of life and world of distraction has done a number on our critical thinking, problem solving, and is a disservice to young learners.

What would happen if we took a step back and started asking, why? Why are we racing towards one perceived right answer? Why are we not creating the space to sit with the question? Young children play in the world of why all day, but somewhere along the way, why gets exchanged for how. Children are naturally curious and want to create understanding and contextualize information. Considering how we learn naturally, through investigations, questions, discussions, wouldn’t it make sense to structure formal classrooms to encourage and nurture the wonder of new information? Using inquiry in the classroom can mirror that curiosity, prod students to start questioning events and assertions, and encourage them to think critically. It taps into a young person’s higher order process skills. Cultivating a culture of why takes more time in a classroom; and in a world of greater structure and accountability time is fleeting. But we as educators should see ourselves as the facilitators of a learning process, helping young people along the path towards their own understanding and development. Sir Ken Robinson called for teachers to look at their role in more of a facilitative manner, “let it [learning] be organic and let the children find what they are capable of. Let teachers be good farmers and give them the right conditions.” Inquiry is a good starting place to cultivate the next generation.