My STEM Units

Sunday, May 17, 2015

STEAMing Ahead to Stop the Summer Slide: Engineering Part 2

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."


In my first post about using engineering to help stop the summer slide, I mentioned "oldies but goodies" such as Legos and K'Nex, reading about engineering, and Maker Camp. Today's post will expand on the Maker Movement. What is this Maker Movement? I explain the Maker Movement in a blog post about libraries (click here to read the post).  ISTE has also done a GREAT job of writing about it (click here to read more). 

1.  Maker Camp

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. 

This year, the weekly themes are:
Week 1: Fantasy
Week 2: Funkytown
Week 3: Farmstead
Week 4: Fun & Games
Week 5: Flight
Week 6: Far-Out Future

2.  National Geographic Engineering Exploration Challenge

"National Geographic wants you to solve up to three big challenges that explorers often face when they are out in the field by using your own robot-like design." (

This year, students can choose between 3 challenges: Animal Migrations, Tell the Story (of a place), and Extreme Environments. Students work on finding solutions to these real-world problems by using the Engineering Design Process. Students can collaborate on Google Hangouts. When students are satisfied with their solutions, they post on the website. For more information, click here

3. Week of Making (White House)  
This year, the White House is hosting a Week of Making to coincide with the National Maker Faire. The theme this year is #NationofMakers. The event will be held June 12-18.  

Although many of us will not be able to attend the free event at the White House, students are encouraged to submit projects on the website.  

4. DIY
Ahh, the age-old question. What do you want to be when you grow up? Today's kids are finding that question harder and harder to answer. Actually, studies show "65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet" (Cathy Davidson).  If our kids will be doing work that isn't invented yet, what can we do to prepare them today?


Click here to read the entire post about and how it can save your summer. 

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