497-301: Reimagining the STEM Education Experience

Meeting Day(s)/Time
Tuesday 1:50 PM - 4:30 PM
Susan Camasta (SAT)
Appropriate Disciplines
Social Innovation

Where will the next generation of discoveries in science and innovations in technology come from? Will the US continue its leadership in pursing world problems and engineering solutions? If Americans are to lead in the future we will need to educate our students today using best practices and even groundbreaking methods, especially in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). How are we educating young people today and what educational innovations might lead to a greater number of students engaging with STEM and pursuing careers in these fields? An informed and critically thinking citizenry is at stake as well as a healthy US economy in a globally competitive marketplace.

From The White House to IBM and the National Science Foundation to Motorola Solutions Foundation, individuals and groups are calling for innovations in STEM education to ultimately make our world a better place. What are the problems within our existing system of STEM education, what changes are currently in the works, and what types of innovations could move us still forward?

The fall 2016 IPRO 301 team will have a range of experiences that create value for STEM stakeholders and members of the team as well:

  1. be immersed in opportunities to build on critical thinking and problem solving skills as team members work independently and as a team to address an authentic problem;
  2. develop skills in observing, listening, analyzing and asking questions, and answering those questions by undertaking academic research, searching out community experts and resources, communicating orally and in writing;
  3. gain experience in team collaboration, project planning and follow-through, prototyping and testing and then revising based on feedback, time management, and presentation and documentation of work;
  4. reflect on the collective K-16 STEM education experience of team members, and attempt to identify the good and the not-so-good;
  5. increase team member knowledge and awareness of current practices in STEM education, comparing and contrasting these with “best practice”:
  6. increase team member knowledge and awareness of current problems in STEM education as well as attempts to address those problems;
  7. identify participants and experts in the arenas of innovative STEM education;
  8. reimagine STEM education, proposing ideas, solutions, and innovations in the domain of an informal environment (The 606 Trail in Chicago);
  9. consider and address constraints on implementation of their ideas;
  10. consider ethics involved in the identified problem and its solutions; and
  11. present innovative STEM education ideas/solutions to an IPRO audience, as well as users and managers of The 606.

For fall 2016, we plan to continue our work with The 606, an elevated trail in Chicago that hosts walking, biking and running. Art installations and interesting landscape design also contribute to this unique urban oasis. Our previous projects have used The 606 trail as the environment for innovative STEM education proposals. This collaboration has been with The Trust for Public Land, and we hope to spark a new relationship with the Chicago Public Library. Current thinking is that we can explore creating activity kits for Chicago Public Library branch(es) near The 606 that will integrate library user needs with STEM education and the unique outdoor environment of The 606.

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