Student Achievement

Elementary Schools Use Extra Learning Time for STEM Education

By Kathryn Baron — September 16, 2014 2 min read
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Five expanded-day elementary schools in Colorado, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are each receiving about $12,000 to use some of that additional time for new STEM programs developed in partnership with local science museums and community science organizations.

The grants are a joint project of the National Center on Time and Learning and the Noyce Foundation.

With the release of the Next Generation Science Standards, this is a particularly important time to engage the youngest students in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, said Jennifer Davis, the co-founder and president of the National Center on Time and Learning.

“The partnerships these expanded-time schools and science organizations develop as they plan for and put in place new science programming will demonstrate what’s possible—both when schools have more time in the school day for science education and when they have the time to thoughtfully plan hands-on science learning,” said Davis, in a written statement.

Schools will spend the first part of this year on planning and are scheduled to begin implementing the programs in January.

Fourth and 5th grade students at A.C. Whelan Elementary School, a participating school in Revere, Mass., will learn about magnetism, geotechnical engineering and how electrical circuits work through an engineering program developed by the Boston Museum of Science.

Each unit is based on a story that provides context and sets up a challenge for the students. After reading A Reminder for Emily, about a girl in the Australian outback who has to figure out a way to remind herself to feed her family’s sheep, students design an alarm system with an on/off switch, using a kit that comes with the program.

Principal Jamie Flynn said that without the grant, her school couldn’t afford the kits or the rigorous two years of professional development that’s being provided by another partner, Blue Heron Educational Consulting Services.

Consultants will come into the classrooms to co-teach, model lessons, and provide feedback, said Flynn.

“It’s not, ‘Here’s your professional development, thanks for coming, have a nice day.’ They’ll be working with teachers to design and implement the lesson plans and trouble shoot.”

Three of the other grantees are located in Colorado and one is in Connecticut.

  • Students in grades K-3 at John Barry Elementary School in Meriden, Conn., will also learn about engineering through a program under development with a local YMCA.

  • At Centennial Elementary School, an expeditionary learning school, students will turn STEM into STEAM (with an “A” for the arts) and explore science through the arts in programs developed with Denver-based EUREKUS, formerly known as the Da Vinci Club.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.