My STEM Units

Saturday, May 17, 2014

STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Engineering

Summer slide is the phenomenon where students lose concepts learned the prior year.  Experts have estimated that teachers spend over one month reteaching those concepts when school does resume.  Summer slide has also been targeted as a major cause of achievement gap in students. (click on the infographic to the right)

Believe it or not, school will be out in a few short weeks.  Parents and teachers need to have a plan to help prevent summer slide.  Join me in the month of May as I share ideas for parents and teachers to minimize loss and maybe even promote growth! 

An article from RIFAccording to the authors of a report from the National Summer Learning Association: "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."


1.  Oldies but Goodies: When most people think of engineering, they think of professionals designing bridges or skyscrapers.  Although those are great examples of engineering, it can also be defined as designing solutions to common problems.  For instance, how can I collect the water that rains onto my roof and use it in my garden? 

Children are natural-born scientists and engineers.  And, they aren't afraid of failure.  Because, to them, it's not failure; it's just another step in the design process.  If their design fails the initial test, they modify their design and build again.  Over and over.  If your child fails to engineer an electric circuit on their first try, encourage them to analyze why it didn't work the way they wanted.  

Although there are really cool gadgets on the market that can build robots out of soda cans, you don't have to break the bank to encourage your child to engineer.  Legos are a perfect way to get your child started.  And the possibilities are endless.  K'Nex are also a resource at home that can be used to produce many different designs.  K'Nex has the addition of motorized pieces, which adds a really fun element to engineering.  Girls now have GoldieBlox to engineer and read.  

2.  Maker Camp:  What camp?  Maker movement is
a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronicsrobotics3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworkingwoodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping.[1] There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively. (thanks Wikipedia).
Google hosts a STEM hangout every summer.  From  July 6 to August 14, Google hosts a virtual camp on Google+.  Children are presented a problem or challenge to solve for the week.  They post videos and pics throughout the week of their creations.  At the end of the week, there is usually a virtual field trip or special visitor.  Last year, one such virtual field trip was with NASA.  Yeah, it's pretty cool.  If you are intimidated by wires and circuit boards, not to worry.  Duct tape and chicken wire are pretty typical building materials.

3.  Reading about Engineering:  Why not kill two birds with one stone and read about engineering?  The best book on engineering for children is Dream, Invent, Create.  National Science Teachers Association just chosen this book to be a prestigious NSTA Recommends© book!  After reading about different types of engineers (and lots of cool fun facts), there are engineering challenges in the back.  The book will capture the imagination of young and old readers alike.  (click here to buy the book)

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.  Keep the conversation going and post your favorite tips for preventing the summer slide in the comments below.

STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Reading
STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Science
STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Technology
STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Math
STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Math Part 2
STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Activities

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