Saturday, April 19, 2014

From Biomes to Real World issues of Sustainability: Teaching 21st Century Skills to Children.

I see a buzz in education that really excites me in STEAMs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and the movement on the National and State's department's of education call 21st Century Science skills.  There is a focus in the fields of science and technology on looking toward the children as future solvers of our world's problems of energy, sustainability, communication and economic progress.  This scientific group of educators and community gets that teaching children these skills will mean the success of our entire world.  I see more and more courses offered to educators to empower young people into STEAMs programs and learning modalities, such as maker camps, or after school programs that focus of group projects, problem solving, creativity and critical thinking skills.  Some of these organizations like are 1st Lego League, Odyssey of the Mind Events and Intel's Computer Club House Network have been up and going for a long time.
click here for Intel's Clubhouse

Recently I attend a conference for Next Generation Science Skills put on by NASA and my local University Arizona State University.  I was loaded down with lessons, curriculums all aligned to Common Core, binders full of science lessons and materials from NASA and ASU to make me feel  like a movie star with SWAG BAGS at an event in Hollywood.  It was a great opportunity to network with other educators too.  I fine the science teachers to be very accepting toward me being part of the group as a homeschooler.  Sometime it's like dropping a dirty word to tell a group of educators at a conference I am a homeschooling parent.  I feel very grateful to be included into these community programs for educators.  ASU NASA LESSONS

I am very interested in starting a local  informal non competitive small group for a Maker's Camp.  A group that can work together on projects using Zome Tools, Lego's, K'Nex's or Scratch programing. Play, create, share and have fun being the main focus and learning is always happening on some level.

How Teaching STEAMs Looks to US

Every year we do a unit study on sustainability in environmental study and architectural study.  This year my son and I went to Arcosanti for several days.  arcosanti  We had a great time and research deeper into the how it looks, what if's and how can we make it better for living.  More on Pablo Soleri's concept of  Arcology HERE.  Conor loves the architecture elements of this study.  We will keep going back to this subject as my son is passionate about building and he self directs to it based on his interest. 


We also found a curriculum through Waseca Montessori Products that teach Biomes. click HEREl for link to Waseca websight.  These materials are beautiful and I love them.  My son enjoys the work too.  We have used the whole line and will for a long time.  I can see the knowledge of learning about the biomes and their own special needs crossing over to any study on sustainability in the communities and environments of the biomes.
 The research and reading materials that came with this curriculum are very nice too. From primary through elementary although for us we will keep using it as a concrete model and supplement it with more research and activities using these materials as the foundation.
Waseca Veneer Stencil of North America's Biomes

Readers and 3 part cards and  on People, Plants and Animals of North America Biomes.  I try and keep a bucket of books out for self-directed research.  

Organizing the cards to a rotation schedule.  This work all came with lessons and albums of ideas for implementing.  the languaging of the cards can be a bit difficult for learners with language issues.  We adapt to it like always.

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