One of the many things that educators are missing this year are in-person annual conferences. Conferences provide educators with a variety of opportunities to learn about the latest innovations in their field. Education conferences can provide teachers the means for earning professional development hours/credits by attending presentations and sessions facilitated by expert speakers and thought leaders. By connecting with other education professionals, educators acquire a broader understanding of the prevalent issues and concerns in education. There is no doubt that these conferences serve many purposes and are incredibly valuable. BUT, this year, conferences have taken a hit of sorts. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many conferences were cancelled, postponed, or customized to be delivered as virtual experiences for attendees.
I’m probably telling on myself a bit here but growing up, hands-on learning activities in school were infrequent. If anything, I did hands-on experiments at home because of the influence of shows like Mr. Wizard’s World (my favorite was poking a pin through a piece of tape on a balloon and being amazed that it didn’t pop). Any hands-on learning experiences were limited to science classes and were mostly dissecting animal parts and insects. If you were to ask me why we did them, I’d be hard-pressed to give you an answer beyond “we were learning about the body.” So, there’s the rub — just because an activity is hands-on doesn’t necessarily mean it’s meaningful or will boost understanding. How can incorporating hands-on activities create an effective STEM learning experience?
Computer network architects design and build data communication networks. These networks include local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.
Growing up, my dad spent lots of time in the garage working on things — his 1972 Ford Pinto (understandably), my brother’s bikes, and making small items for our home. The garage was his makerspace and he used it to design, plan, and follow through on his creative ideas. Later, my brother used the garage as his makerspace. These days makerspaces are moving out of the garages of hobbyists to classrooms and schools for our students to engage in interactive experiences that spark creativity and imagination.
I don’t know about you, but my activity levels have definitely decreased this past year. I find that I’m spending more time in front of my PC for work and recreation (video chatting with family and friends, going on virtual tours, streaming channels for shows and movies, etc.). With many children in remote or hybrid learning situations, their activity levels are also decreasing as it has become easier to move from one place to sit to another place to sit (i.e. chair to sofa). Besides allowing for more physical activity during breaks (run outside for 15 minutes, 5-minute stretches every hour, 60-minute lunch and recreation break sans devices), learning should also incorporate more movement. In addition, with the push for more hands-on STEM integration, students having to school at home need a viable option for STEM learning besides online games and interactive worksheets.
“STEM allows kids to build and create ideas from scratch and have deep critical thinking. We need to prepare our kids for that future.” – Braydon Moreno, co-founder of Robo 3D
Many teachers are struggling with how to address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) topics in this time of social-distancing and remote-learning. Even for schools that are meeting in person, many of the hands-on lesson plans that teachers might have previously utilised are incredibly challenging under distancing and cleanliness guidelines. After all, who really has time to sanitise every block in a base-ten-blocks set between students? No one.
It looks like we’re closing out the year in a new “normal” of face masks, constant handwashing, and social distancing guidelines. Of course, this has impacted many areas of life including education. Our teachers are juggling with maintaining health and safety guidelines while providing quality instruction, regardless of the learning environment. To say that this can be a little stressful is an understatement, yet teachers are making every effort to keep their students engaged and motivated to try despite this challenging time. What does this entail? That teachers express enthusiasm and positivity to encourage their students, especially when they see them anxious or worried. This can take a toll on teachers.
Topics: teacher tips