Supporting Goals-Based Learning with STEM Outreach
How to bolster outreach efforts aimed at students in the elementary grades is the subject of a recent AAAS Project 2061 article in the Journal of STEM Education (JSTEM). In “Supporting Goals-Based Learning with STEM Outreach,” program director Sofia Kesidou and communications director Mary Koppal draw on Project 2061’s standards-based research and the available research on teaching and learning to recommend strategies and resources that can help members of the scientific community develop outreach activities and materials that are more relevant and effective.
Kesidou and Koppal present three key recommendations for enhancing content for K–6 students and for placing outreach efforts within the broader context of education reform in science, mathematics, and technology:
Align Your Outreach Efforts to Relevant Content Standards. Alignment is not as easy as it might seem. To be meaningful, aligned activities or materials need to address the substance of a standard or learning goal, not just a key word or topic. Aligned materials also need to reflect the appropriate grade level sophistication.
Pay Attention to What Students Are Thinking. Research has shown that even the very young have their own ideas about almost every topic they are likely to encounter. By being aware of these ideas and taking them into account when planning outreach work, developers can ask better questions of students and provide more convincing evidence about the validity and plausibility of a scientific explanation.
Take Advantage of Instructional Strategies That Work. Specific strategies have been shown by research to engage students with ideas and help them to understand and retain the most important concepts. Outreach activities and materials can be strengthened by evaluating them in light of such strategies.
In the complete article you can find details about how to apply these recommendations to outreach efforts and examples of resources that can help. The Kesidou and Koppal article is listed as article 1 on the JSTEM Web site (Vol. 5, Issues 3 & 4).