One of the new Buzz words in education is STEM.
What is STEM?
It is an acronym which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Get a better understanding from: http://www.iseek.org/careers/stemskills.html
Why should home educators be concerned about STEM?
The highest paying jobs in the future will be in the STEM fields. A great website to educate yourself about STEM Careers is: http://www.iseek.org/careers See what careers are in demand, view salaries and take an assessment .
Why are employers seeking graduates in the STEM fields?
Students who have majored in the STEM subjects have acquired the ability to solve problems, to think analytically and logically, and the ability to work independently, as well as in teams.
How do you get your students interested in STEM?
Start them young in activities, projects and competitions to trigger their curiosity. Understanding mathematics needs to begin with concrete activities which give the child an understanding of numbers, sequencing and groupings. Engage them in number games and word problems.
What are some STEM competitions open to home educators?
FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a robotics competition for children from age 6 to 18.
4-H is part of the County Extension Office and offers many science and technology projects and competitions (even a robotics project.)
(Note: There are other competitions such as VEX but these may not be feasible for home educated students.)
What is FIRST?
What is FIRST? See the YouTube video
What are the Levels of Competition? http://www.usfirst.org/
Junior FIRST LEGO League, (Jr.FLL) (ages 6 – 9) It captures young children’s inherent curiosity and directs them toward discovering the wonders of science and technology. This program features a real-world scientific concept to be explored through research, teamwork, construction, and imagination.
FIRST LEGO League (FLL), (ages 6 – 14) It immerses children in real-world science and technology challenges. Teams design their own solution to a current scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that perform a series of missions.
FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) (High School Students) This is a robotics competition that allows students to compete head to head using a sports model.
FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) (ages 14 – 18) Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind,™ it combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real world” engineering as a student can get. Professional Mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team.
Will these competitions provide all the coursework a student needs?
No. Students will still need to study math and science as independent subjects, but using competition as a motivator makes them understand its application and love it. In addition to math and science, the competition requires them to read, research, write and make presentations. It sparks their curiosity, imagination and creativity. It helps them to understand how STEM are used in the real world and it gives them hands-on experience in the fields.
What are some great resources for courses, curriculum and support?
To name a just a few:
FLVS offers free math, science and technology courses for students in grades 6 -12. Florida certified teachers are there to teach, tutor and support your online learning. See the Catalog of Courses here. The FLVS offers a computer programming class as well as an AP Computer Science course read about it in the April 2012 HEF newsletter.
Kahn Academy www.khanacademy.org offers a free library of 3800 videos covering K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even reaches into the humanities with playlists on finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.
Mr. D’s Math http://www.mrdmath.com offers Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and Geometry digital textbook series, online courses, tutoring and co-ops for home educated students for a fee.
Local groups that focus on STEM activities
Tampa Bay area:
Class Source of Tampa, Inc. www.class-source.com
Trinity Homeschool Academy
Learning is for Everyone http://www.teamducttape.comWinter Haven Campus of Polk State College
Fall Enrichment Classes on Robotics and FIRST competition teams. Engineering classes are being offered during the spring semester. Contact Brenda Bracewell at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if classes will open in the Fall of 2013. Miami Area:
Equip Education www.equipeducation.org West Palm Beach area:
FAITH Homeschool Group Contact Reesa Dukeman for more information email@example.com Panama City area:
If you are interested in starting a team in your area, you might want to see a FIRST Competition in your area. These events generally start around 9:00 am and end between 3:30pm and 5:00pm. They are open to the public and most are free.
Click here for complete details (be sure to check the box to the right, then choose FL)
Here are the list of upcoming Tournaments in Florida:
Junior First Lego LeagueLocal EventJacksonville Country Day SchoolJacksonville, FL USA20-Apr-2012Local EventLEGOLAND, FLWinter Haven, FL USA10-Feb-2013
First Lego League (Qualifying Tournaments)1/19/2013Last Chance QTDavidson Middle School1/19/2013Razzma Taz Bot TournamentBoynton Beach, Florida1/19/2013Robotic Explorers Qualifying TournamentWestside Elementary School1/19/2013 Roosevelt QualifierRoosevelt Elementary School1/19/2012 Saturn QualifierSaturn Elem School1/19/2013 Thrasher 2Thrasher Horne Conference Center
First Tech ChallengeMeetPolk State College Student CenterWinter Haven, FL USA19-Jan-2013MeetMAST AcademyMiami, FL USA19-Jan-2013
Meet ChampionshipMariner High SchoolCape Coral, FL USA19-Jan-2013Meet ChampionshipSeminole High SchoolSeminole, FL USA26-Jan-2013Meet ChampionshipHagerty High SchoolOviedo, FL USA27-Jan-2013Meet ChampionshipCocoa Beach High SchoolCocoa Beach , FL USA02-Feb-2013Meet ChampionshipTERRA Environmental Research InstituteMiami, FL USA02-Feb-2013Meet ChampionshipJesuit High SchoolTampa, FL USA02-Feb-2013Championship TournamentEmbry Riddle ICI CenterDaytona Beach, FL USA02-Mar-2013
First Robotics CompetitionRegionalUniversity of Central Florida ArenaOrlando, FL USA07-Mar – 09-Mar-2013RegionalGreat Fort Lauderdale & Broward County Convention CenterFort Lauderdale, FL USA28-Mar – 30-Mar-2013