Month: January 2019

The White House announced a five-year strategic plan for STEM education, setting forth what it calls a “North Star” that “charts a course for the Nation’s success.” “It represents an urgent call to action for a nationwide collaboration with learners, families, educators, communities and employers,” the White House plan reads. The administration’s goal is threefold: for every American to master basic STEM concepts, like computational thinking, in order to respond to technological change; to increase access to STEM among historically underserved students; and to encourage students to pursue STEM careers.

Apple today unveiled new resources designed to bring coding education through the Everyone Can Code program to even more students around the world. Starting today, customers can register for thousands of free Hour of Code sessions, available at all Apple Store locations around the world from December 1 through 14. The company also introduced Swift Coding Club materials to help teach coding outside of the classroom with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn programming language used by professional developers to create world-class apps. And to help prepare and develop students for the workforce, the company unveiled new Advanced Placement curriculum and App Development with Swift certification.

Borrowing ideas from adult versions of the game, escape rooms are an increasingly popular style of K-12 teaching that educators say offer a creative way to get students engaged with material and excited about problem-solving. They include the classic game components — teamwork, clues and prizes — with an educational twist aligned to traditional classroom lessons and curriculum standards.

In so many ways, our schools are built for an earlier version of American society and economy. Structural changes can help make them work better for children and families. School schedules put pressure on families struggling to construct a sane, healthy life for their children. A recent Center for American Progress brief asks the obvious question: Why not set up the school day to mirror the workday? The brief proposes that education leaders find ways to align the school day with families’ work schedules. The direct benefits are multitudinous. First, an expanded school day would give kids more learning time. Second, more learning time could help schools give students a wider range of educational experiences.

Through a partnership with Sunrise of Philadelphia and Fleisher Art Memorial, students of all ages from across South Philly celebrated Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, at the historic art institution. The various activities, which weaved together Mexican literacy and arts, explored more than one layer of the loss of a loved one. Whether drafting a poem or crafting tissue-paper marigolds, the celebration was a special installment of the monthly “Our Stories” events, a partnered program with Fleisher and Sunrise of Philadelphia. “Our Stories, while it’s about learning about art and literacy, the literacy aspect is also about learning about how to speak to your neighbor, really,” said Aja Beech, the arts integrated literacy coordinator for Sunrise of Philadelphia for the Fleisher partnership. “And I think, in these times, so many things are strained, especially within populations of people who have immigrated here.”

Come fall 2019, Sam Houston High School in San Antonio Independent School District will operate a new school-within-a-school focused on cybersecurity education. Cyber P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) at Sam Houston High School will be the city’s first P-TECH campus and aims to open with a class of 150 freshmen. The P-TECH program is a national, industry-specific educational model the State Legislature approved for use in Texas schools in 2017. The model allows students to earn a high school diploma, associate degree, certifications, and obtain work-based training in specific career fields over a span of four to six years.

During the summer after eighth grade, Archika Dogra, a high school junior at the Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington, signed up for her very first computer science camp. As one of only two girls in a program of 30 people, she faced many barriers that prevented her from fully participating in the program. Archika knew that there had to be a solution for what she was going through. After this experience, Archika resolved that she needed to do something to help increase diversity in the STEM environments around her; she wanted to make sure that other students that are traditionally underrepresented in the field would not be left feeling the way she had –underappreciated, isolated and voiceless. Two years later, along with two other girls, Archika started The EduSTEM Initiative with the goal of leveling the playing field in STEM education.

When Mubarik Ismaeli approached him three-and-a-half years ago for help securing a new scoreboard for Willie Stargell Field in Homewood, Derrick Tillman thought he was thinking too small. “We began to talk about the project and I thought that just wasn’t enough,” said Tillman, president and CEO of Bridging the Gap Development. “I knew Homewood needed the best of the best.” So the two Westinghouse High alumni dreamed up an ambitious plan to build a new multisport field and community gathering space. Their persistence was rewarded recently when city leaders and Pittsburgh native, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin announced a $14 million public-private partnership to rehabilitate the field. The money will come from various sources, including HCS, the city and state, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and Indianapolis-based insurance company Group1001.

While afterschool and summer learning programs are largely funded by parent fees, the public funding at the local, state, and federal level is critical. Therefore, the 2018 election will have an impact on existing programs and the prospect of additional support for programs. Afterschool was an issue in many campaigns, including the Senate race in Pennsylvania. Changes in representatives are across the board, from House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to state level, which will have results for afterschool.

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