During the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are struggling to assist children with STEM-based distance learning. To help them, a group of professors launched a Facebook group dubbed “CoBuild” that provides STEM content that kids can engage within their living rooms. After 6 weeks, the group garnered over 4,300 followers, and the project earned a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research program. Using the money, the group plans to look into how COVID-19 is impacting distance learning.
“We started the group to support parents and caregivers through extended school closures with activities they can engage in with their kids,” Adam Maltese, an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington, told Indian University. “Given our prior work, we thought people would be looking for non-school-related material, ways to keep kids active. Our goal is to produce a steady stream of content for parents who might be interested.”
Separately, the National Science Foundation has granted $1.3 million to a group of researchers from multiple U.S. universities who are researching how to better retain STEM instructors in the U.S.
“Teacher turnover is a general problem in the U.S., including for STEM teachers,” one of the researchers, Professor David Slavit, told WSU Insider. “If we can find ways of identifying early what qualities best predict STEM teacher quality and effectiveness, we might be able to reduce that turnover rate and, at the same time, improve the quality of STEM instruction.”
India is developing a number of government-backed initiatives to spur STEM education in schools, including Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, and Atal Tinkering Labs. The nation has installed more than 1,900 “mini science centers” (MSC) in schools throughout 23 states, with 8,000 teachers capable of educating over a million students. The MSCs provide 80 interactive “plug-and-play” models that allow kids to learn science and engineering in a hands-on way.
Ashutosh Pandit, Founder of STEM Learning, the global social enterprise behind the MSCs, said the idea came from seeing how much students loved to visit science centers.
“So why not bring the centre to their schools and embed it in their curriculum? So we started installing Mini Science Centres in schools across India to push, motivate and encourage students to stop fearing and start loving science and maths concepts and ingrain them forever,” Pandit told India CSR. “The students from remotest locations now have access to MSC exhibits and they are definitely valuing its importance due to the increase in scientific temper they themselves are witnessing.”
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