This is proposal that we submitted to the 2010 Knight News Challenge.
The decline of student interest in math and science in the United States is a growing concern. Student STEM News will develop tools to engage K-12 students in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by bringing current STEM news into the classroom and facilitating interaction around that news with parents, educators, and people in STEM professions.
A Story of Teacher Use of Student STEM News
Mr. Vargas, an 8th Grade Science Teacher registers for Student STEM News and watches a video showing how to set up a STEM news portal for his class. Mr. Vargas chooses from a list of STEM news feeds to aggregate for his class portal. Using the portal and his contacts lists, Mr. Vargas emails parents, people who work in the STEM professions, and science education students in the geographic community, to invite them to contribute stories to the portal. He lists the course topics and includes stories illustrating what he is looking for.
Mr. Vargas and invited contributors use stories from the aggregated feeds as sources for writing stories at a reading level appropriate for his students. The system makes it easy for authors to link to original stories and recommends related stories and learning resources from the National Science Digital Library and other open education resource sites to reference. The system encourages authors to invite students to explore the story using interactive software tools and to contribute created artifacts such as videos, pictures, articles, and software models. Mr. Vargas reviews contributed stories and publishes them to the portal. He assigns students to discuss the stories on the site and submit responses. After students review a number of stories, Mr. Vargas assigns students to contribute their own stories.
How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered to geographic communities?
While there are quality sources of STEM news, it takes teachers considerable effort to find stories appropriate to their classes and to integrate them into their classroom activities. In addition, most STEM news stories are written at a reading level higher than appropriate for K-12 students, especially the younger grades. By inviting parents, professionals, and educators in a geographic community to contribute stories, Student STEM News will decrease the effort required for STEM teachers to use current news in their teaching. It will also increase involvement of parents and others in the classroom. Inviting professionals from the local community to contribute will generate content relevant to the geographic area.
How is your idea innovative?
Student STEM News is innovative in its approach to including current news in K-12 science and math instruction. Student STEM News tools will dramatically lower the barrier to engage students with current STEM news. Student STEM News’ approach to involving parents, educators, and members of industry in the classroom is also innovative. Its use of recommender technology to connect news to open educational resources is novel. Its emphasis on connecting stories with interactive software tools contrasts with how news has traditionally been used in K-12 classrooms.