On Wednesday June 27th, 2018, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum held Space Innovation Day, an event to celebrate space exploration, STEM education and students as makers. The event was co-developed by the museum and Future Engineers, a technology firm that is a current awardee of the U.S. Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research Program (ED/IES SBIR).
In the morning, the event featured a live conversation (called a “downlink”) between NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station and Washington, D.C.-area students at the museum. After a brief introduction of Auñón-Chancellor as she floated around in the space station, students asked her a series of questions such as “What it is like to experience space?” and “What does it take to be an astronaut?”
Surrounded by farm fields in rural Arkansas, Abby Simmons, Matthew Cook and Darshan Patel, 8th grade students at Armorel High School, completed a community based project that garnered national media attention earlier this year. They successfully printed a 3-D prosthetic foot for an Indian Runner Duck named Peg.
The high school students teach themselves how to use 3-D printers and run state-of-the-art software in for photography, design, video, music and virtual animation (just to name a few) under the guidance of Armorel High School teacher Alicia Bell.
“You can teach yourself how to do different software,” Simmons said, “or anything you would like to learn about.”
The students attending the rural school in the unincorporated community of Armorel are eager to help alleviate needs they discover in their community and school. They design solutions using technological tools and resources, while developing invaluable skills in critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration.
Six Montana students are warmed by a campfire with their teacher, Judy Boyle, and some of their parents who have come along on the ‘field study trip.’ The students, ranging from 1st to 7th grade, journal about the symbiotic relationships and geothermal features they observed and recorded during the day. Place-based education is one way Boyle enables her students to engage with science, their natural environment and community.
The Advantages of Being a Small, Rural School
Life in Divide, Montana, may look a little different from the norm in more populated areas. The two-room schoolhouse serves the six students enrolled at Divide Public School. On their commute to school, the Divide students and their teacher could be held up by a different kind of traffic – a herd of elk.
“We need to question everything; to look for ways in which we can improve, and embrace the imperative of change. At the end of the day, success shouldn’t be measured by how much ivy is on the wall,” said U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “It should be determined by how you’re educating and preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”
Setting this tone of innovation, Secretary DeVos welcomed over 20 education leaders from across the nation to the Education Innovation Summit on Higher Education, held recently at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington. The agenda included general discussion as well as several featured presentations.
“There are a number of challenges and opportunities facing American students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “And Washington, D.C. does not have all the answers. But government can be good at bringing people together to highlight their creative thinking and new approaches.”
Secretary DeVos welcomed nearly 20 education leaders and entrepreneurs from Maine to California to the Education Innovation Summit on K-12 learning, held recently at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington.
When I wanted to know what an affinity group is, I turned to my affinity for the dictionary. Webster’s definition is “people having a common goal or acting together for a specific purpose.” By this definition, the California Affinity Group (CAG) is perfectly named. CAG’s members work in Promise Neighborhoods, Promise Zones, a Performance Partnership Pilot area, city governments, school districts, community organizations, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and U.S. Department of Education (ED) with the common goal of improving opportunities for people living in some of California’s most distressed communities.
Every student in the United States deserves a great education. And, every parent in this country – regardless of background, income or zip code – deserves the right to choose the school that is best for his or her child.
To achieve that goal, Secretary DeVos has called for “a transformation that will open up America’s education system.” If we’re going to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners, we need fresh thinking and innovative approaches. There’s plenty we can learn from other countries, as they strive to prepare their students for 21st century realities.
Those lessons were the subject of a recent briefing at the Department – the first of a new series of learning sessions the Secretary has launched, focused on effective, student-centered education. The speaker was Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).