Calgary has been uncharacteristically warm this week and that has us thinking of spring which means although it is only February, SUMMER CAMPS are just around the corner.
At STEM Learning Lab, our creative educators, thinkers, and designers have spent the winter thinking up exciting new camps for our 2016 Camp! We are going to be bringing back all of our friends including J.D our loveable Humanoid Robot, Roli our Adventurous Space Rover, our master of robot wars, the Adventure Bot, and of course our six-legged friend, the dancing Hexapod.
As educational leaders in school and outside of school learning, STEM Learning Lab knows that students and campers love to learn new things, make new friends, and have fun! Our 2016 camps incorporate new skills, new technologies, and the opportunity to meet some great new friends who love the things you love. Making friends is what encourages youth to strive to achieve new things and be the best they can. Join us as we infuse Technology, Creativity, Coding, Design, Engineering, Robotics and Makin into your child’s summer memories.
These memories and experiences shape the direction your child’s future will take. Make sure you are giving your child the proper fundamentals when choosing a summer camp this year.
STEM is becoming more and more critical to our future and in the 21st century we are aware that technology is no longer simply a luxury – it’s a way of life. We are committed to providing students the tools, knowledge and confidence to love technology, to acquire a passion for STEM and Robotics! We guarantee our campers will have a lot to say about our camps!
This is the dilemma of many about taking a class like app development. I talk to many parents, teachers, and students and guess what? They all use apps. But there are many complaints about apps. They are a time suck, they don’t work, they have ads…..
I just saw on the news a story about an ongoing conflict of kids and screen time. How much is too much? Will they lose social skills? Are we hurting their development?
I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do propose a shift towards looking at the quality of screen time rather than quantity of screen time. In the App development class, students play with the apps they create. Some of these apps are games, and some of them are concerned with helping or educating others. Students become makers of technology instead of consumers. They become critical of the technology around them.
But what I find the most interesting is that this is one of the most social classes I’ve ever taught. Students are concerned with the user experience for the apps they create. They interact with others and develop empathy for likes, frustrations, and other feelings the students have towards their creation. They also develop strong problem solving and logic skills in order to create a great app. It makes me wonder if as a society we are focusing on the wrong side of technology.
STEM Learning Lab’s own Dr. Cherkowski is named to the Executive Board of C21 Canada: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation.
C21 Canada is a national, not for profit organization that advocates for 21st Century models of learning in education. The goal of C21 Canada is to witness an accelerated pace of 21st competencies, instructional practices, and digital resources and services being integrated into Canada’s learning systems. C21 Canada is a unique blend of national education associations and knowledge sector businesses united in their belief that 21st Century models of learning must be adopted in public education on an urgent basis to position Canadians for economic, social and personal success in the high skills, knowledge and innovation based economy.
C21 Canada and its members provide collaborative vision and support to help Canadian education organizations enhance learning in the foundation areas of literacy, numeracy and science while infusing 21st Century skills (creative problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, personal development, global citizenship and digital competency) into content, and instructional and assessment practices.
For more information, go to http://www.c21canada.org
I got to spend this week with Hillary Clinton, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars. Hillary gave an amazing speech, while Bruno did a headstand and Taylor “shook it off.” Also, there was a cameo by Queen Beyonce herself. This amazing experience was created by 8 wonderful girls ages 8-15 during a Robotics camp.
As a scientist, I often approach robots as gears and motors governed by an all-powerful script. Through the combination of logic, physics, and moving parts, something beautiful is created. I feel connected to the problem I’m solving. In the classroom, students don’t often connect to the learning. When solving a mathematical problem, students don’t develop a caring relationship with each number. But what if they did? How would the learning experience change?
JD is a humanoid robot created by EZ Robots. During the week of camp the girls learned how to build and configure JD. They also programed JD to greet people, have conversations and dance. All the mathematics, physics, coding, spatial and visual skills gained during this week proved that every single member of this group has a place in the technical world and as a future innovator. But that did not eclipse some of the other strengths that were gained in this time.
From the moment the robots were put together, these girls demonstrating caring and nurturing. The robots were new friends, they immediately had a personality. When being configured, the robot lets out a buzzing sound when any of the servos are stressed. The girls would respond to them as a parent does a child. The physical problem of configuring the motors to have minimal stress became about making their friends comfortable. Getting a robot to move involves some very high level math transformation skills. It made me think of my dreaded geometry class.
I always had difficulty translating shapes into different spaces. I remember the tests where we were given graph paper and had to translate shapes into different spaces. I never got the right answer. That shaped my attitude that I was a failure at visual and spatial reasoning.
However, if the girls could not get a movement to work at first, or if their robot fell (or in one case decapitated itself), they picked the robot up, gave it a quick hug, and went back to trying. They developed resilience towards the frustration that arises when things don’t go the way you want. They were able to look at why something didn’t work and find a solution. They demonstrated critical thinking.
This resilience is needed in order to find success and satisfaction. If coders did not plow through the frustration of bugs, this blog would not exist, nor would the internet. This camp showed me how we can use STEM education as a platform to build a future of innovative, risk-taking, and resilient citizens.
This full day event, for youth of all ages (18 and under), will take place on Saturday May 30th, 2015 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at Innovate Calgary (3553 31 Street Northwest).
This unique and engaging one-day Entrepreneurial Workshop is a highly interactive experience that is designed to give youth an introduction to the world of entrepreneurship; particularly as it applies to the science, technology and innovation sectors.
We are excited to announce our roster of mentors for the weekend:
Pieter Boekhoff – http://www.avenuecalgary.com/Top-40-Under-40/Pieter-Boekhoff/
Joann Paton – With over 20 years of broad HR expertise, a graduate degree in leadership and years of experience working in teams, Joann’s ability to think strategically, work collaboratively, engage individuals and deliver results enables her to successfully contribute to a company and positively influence enterprise wide change. Joann’s personal and professional success can be attributed to her ability to create, develop and be part of high performing teams. Knowing how to work with others as well as using your personal leadership to achieve a result is the focus of the Effective Teams session. Come have some fun, learn about the team building process and your own role at our StartUp Workshop for Kids!
Stephanie Chan – Stephanie Chan is an avid CBC-radio listener who loves practicing martial ats. By day, she is an Education Specialist on the Innovation & Learning
Technology team at the Calgary Board of Education. By night, she hatches
projects that bring together students, educators, entrepreneurs, and
startups to explore and create value collaboratively. In October 2014, she
organized western Canada’s first Startup Weekend EDU event in Calgary that
brought together youth in grades 9-12, educators, designers, and developers
to live the entrepreneurial spirit.
Margret-Glover Campbell – MINDFuel
Ryan Clements – www.ryanclements.com
Gina Cherkowski – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/gina-cherkowski/91/205/b63
Thanks to STEM Learning Lab, a handful of Calgary schools are looking at robots as new tool for teaching math and science!
It’s no secret — most kids hate math. But what if playing with robots was part of the equation?
Rundle College Elementary School is one of a handful of Calgary schools exploring the use of robots to facilitate learning around more daunting subjects like math and science.
Principal Ron Clark said he was elated to see his Grade 5 students so excited to learn after running a series of “Robot Rumble” workshops through STEM Learning Lab, a new education start-up in Calgary focused on engaging students through robotics.
Students spent three-hour sessions learning how to program robots, and then put their programming skills to the test with robot-to-robot competitions.
“The kids said it was so much fun,” Clark said. “It’s the whole idea of showing kids that things like math and science can be fun — it’s very important to get them intrigued and interested.”
Gina Cherkowski, co-founder and director of learning for STEM Learning Lab, said with how quickly the digital age is evolving, technological literacy is essential for students.
As the demand for STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) employees continues to trend upwards, Cherkowski said teachers need to find new ways to get their students interested in subjects typically seen as boring or too difficult.
“I was a high school math teacher for years and I heard so many students say, ‘I hate math,’” Cherkowski said. “But everyone can learn it, and one of the best ways I’ve found is having kids play with robots.”
Cherkowski said teaching students how to program robots has students actively participating and thinking about subjects like math and science in a non-traditional way.
“It provides multiple entry ways for students to get into math and technology,” Cherkowski explained. “This is the shift we’re taking in education, and we need to do it so our kids are prepared for a future requiring math and science.”
Rundle’s Clark said that his own school’s success with STEM pedagogy has Rundle — and several others in Calgary like Ernest Manning High School and Sunalta School — looking at expanding or incorporating robotics programs into their curriculum.
To Read the entire article, go to:
Math, Music and Movement
Reports show that North American students continue to underperform in mathematics (National Assessment of Educational Programs [NAEP], 2005; National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2009; PISA, 2007 & 2013). This leaves large gaps in our schools, universities, and in our current and future workforce (Gateway, 2006; NSF, 2010; Manpower, 2010; Statistics Canada, 2013). The repercussions this intellectual shortfall are huge as a Nation’s economy depends on their ability to produce a workforce that enables them to be innovative and nationally competitive (Association for Career and Technical Education [ACTE], 2001; Networking, Architecture, & Storage [NAS], 2007; NSF, 2010; Orpwood, Schmidt, & Hu, 2012). Having a skilled and knowledgeable workforce that can solve real-world problems is critical for the health, wealth, and cultural vitality of a nation (Fullen, 2010). Given that over eight million jobs (in the US alone) will require STEM skills by the year 2018 (Lefkowitz, 2014), and the fact that we are projected to be grossly unable to meet these demands (NSF, 2010; Orpwood, Schmidt, & Hu, 2012), the urgency to produce a citizenry that is literate in the STEM fields has never been greater (Manpower, 2010; Parntership for 21st Century Skills, 2010).
To be successful in the STEM fields, students need to be mathematically literate as mathematical knowledge is the foundational building block for learning science and acquiring skills in engineering and technology. Additionally, mathematics is important because according to six large, longitudinal studies that included students from Canada, the US, and England, early mathematical skills are a greater predictor of future reading, math, and academic success more so than socio-emotional skills, attention issues, socio-economic status and even early reading skills (Duncan, Dowsett, Claessens, Magnuson, Huston, Klebanov, Pagani, Feinstein, Engel, Brooks-Gunn, Sexton, Duckworth, & Japel, 2006).
The evidence is clear; math is a critical and necessary skill for all students in today’s technologically-advanced, data-rich world. Thus, the question on everyone’s mind is how do we get more students to become proficient in mathematics not just for the good of STEM so they are aptly prepared fort he demands of the 21st Century.
Moving Full STEAM Ahead
In order develop a robust understanding of math, students need to be engaged in non-traditional ways inside the mathematics classroom. Finding innovative ways to teach math conceptually will ensure more students can successfully engage in mathematical learning. One way to do this is to add “Arts” to the STEM equation. Using music to teach math has been found to be a highly effective way to ensure students develop a deeper understanding of math (San Francisco State University, 2012, March 22).
Adding Art to STEM (STEAM) removes barriers for many learners while providing multiple entry points for students to engage in mathematical learning. In addition, it will make math (and science) more meaningful, more connected, more conceptual and more engaging to learn. Furthermore, adding arts to math provides students with real-world math experiences where they come to see, feel and understand how math applies to the world around them. This kind of learning fosters a deep, conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas as opposed to a memorized, disconnected, and shallow understanding. This is important as the in order for students to be aptly prepared for their future, they need the full range of math skills which include problem solving, computational literacy, mathematical reasoning and communication skills, as well as mathematical fluency and flexibility (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000).
Music and Math
Historically, it has been assumed that there is a strong connection that exists between music and mathematics (Vaughn, 2000) however, many people fail to see the connection. Recently, there has been a significant and increasing amount of literature that is bringing awareness to the strong connections between music and math (Hoch & Tillman, 2012). This explosion of research is promising as it supports previous assertions that music has a positive effect on one’s ability to learn and do math (Gardiner, Fox, Knowles & Jeffery, 1996).
Summary: STEM + Arts = Opportunities for all!
Math is a critical and necessary skill for all students in today’s technologically-advanced, data-rich world. Students who are not mathematically literate will be greatly disadvantaged in this future world. Consequently, it is unjust not to give every student the opportunity to be mathematically literate so they can be optimally positioned to be a full and active participant in their future. Since neuroscience tells us all students can do math at high levels (Boaler, 2012), we know this goal is not merely a dream, it is in fact attainable.
Combining music and movement with math is one way to help achieve this critically important and timely goal. Adding music and movement to mathematical learning removes barrier of entry for many students, provides meaning and context, and makes learning math fun and engaging. Additionally, learning math through movement and music helps allows math concepts to no longer remain abstract and disconnected from students’ real world experiences. Through music and movement, students come to see, appreciate, and connect with math in the world around them. By integrating the Arts (music, visual arts, and/or performing arts) with math students have the opportunity to learn math in ways that foster a deep conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts as they feel, experience, understand, and embody mathematics. Through music, students not only learn math, they become mathematical beings.
The evidence is clear; it is time to add Arts to the STEM Equation!
Join Dr. Gina Cherkowski, Co-Founder and Director of Learning For STEM Learning Lab, and Co-Founder of STEM Alberta as she speaks at the Partners In Research Live Event. The live feed can be accessed here:
“I recently took part on a panel discussion at Simon Fraser University’s BCNET conference discussing ideas and thoughts on how to attract and retain more women in information technology fields (IT). With me there were three other fabulous women who are veterans in the industry. We all had the same goal: to shed a light on women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry.” (more…)
Since the launching of Sputnik, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields have been flagged as increasingly important (Schoenfeld, 2001). This trend continues today (National Science Foundation [NSF], 2010). In fact, “STEM” is the most frequently occurring word in our current Information Age (Lefkowitz, 2014). (more…)