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New York takes Digital Learning Mobile

Another in an occasional series of guest posts, we are pleased to feature the work and voices of SETDA members. Today’s post comes from Stan Silverman, Director of Technology Based Learning Systems, New York Institute of Technology.

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The STEAMed van attended the Willits Roads School Tech Fair in March 2015. Students and parents were exposed to 3D printing and design, robotics with the NAO robot and the Darwin mini, as well as a “Dancing with the Stars” physics activity connecting motion to a graphical representation.

Recently, the New York Institute of Technology, working with the New York State Teacher Centers, developed the STEAMed initiative. The program customized a van into a hands-on digital learning center to bring tactile STEAM experiences for both teachers and students into schools and community organizations. The STEAMed vehicle initiative is designed to address the critical need of engaging students in the process of innovation, creativity and technology so that they can become college and career ready.

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Participating educators are provided with creative, student-powered, hands-on STEAM learning opportunities that align to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. The van is scheduled to make 80 plus visits per academic year. The goal of the vehicle (designed by the Professor Garfield Foundation) is to engage the stakeholders (school boards, administrators, teachers, parents and students) in a conversation on the implementation of STEAM approaches and curriculum in schools in grades 2-8.

This unique program was launched based on the successes of the U.S. Department of Education’s CyberEd program that targeted “Empowerment Zones” originally launched in 1996. The “Empowerment Zones” included a coalition of non-profit, corporate and private partners connected to invigorate the conversation around the use of instructional technology in schools within the  in the United States.

A typical STEAMed visit has teachers working together with the van’s support team to deliver model activities focused on creativity, innovation and technology within the context of meeting the New York State standards. Schools and libraries can request sessions during and after school hours. Van visits range from mass demonstration opportunities at conferences and events to individual classroom visits. Specific strategies are designed to address the needs of female student, students of color and students in poverty so they can see themselves participating in STEAM related careers and continuing education.  The STEAMed vehicle currently supports 6 major areas of activity:

  • Citizen science using probeware
  • Coding
  • Robotics
  • 3D printing
  • Electronics and circuits
  • Maker design and development

A number of companies have provided support for the effort through hardware and software loans and donations. These include Intel, Vernier, Verizon, Zspace, A+ Technologies, Microsoft, Robotis, The Inventery (Morphi), Makers Empire and PolyCom.

Next steps include a section of Professor Garfield’s website that will house resources and model lessons for STEAM based on the experiences with the van.  If you are in NY and spot our STEAMed van, stop in to see mobile digital learning in action.

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Stan Silverman is a  professor of education and Director of Technology Based Learning Systems at the New York Institute of Technology, serves on the NYS Board of Regents Technology Policy and Practices Council and has been the  long standing co-chair of the New York State Teacher Center Technology Committee.

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