Creating and Connecting STEM-Rich Learning Environments
STEM learning opportunities are everywhere. In a STEM Learning Ecosystem, those opportunities should be high-quality, universally accessible, youth-centered and connected so learners can deepen their skills and interests and tackle increasingly complex challenges over time.
To create and connect STEM-rich learning environments, STEM Ecosystems can:
- Reflect the teaching and learning approaches of the National Research Council and National Academies reports: Framework for K12 Science Education, Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments and Community Programs to Promote Youth Development.
- Align with Next Generation Science Standards and other similar state standards for science education and the Common Core State Standards across formal and informal settings, ensuring that young people build complex skills s
uch as leadership, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity and the ability to problem-solve using mathematical, scientific and engineering practices.
- Connect in and out-of-school STEM learning, through strategies such as linked curricula, common language and subject matter, shared teaching and learning approaches and joint activities to enhance how youth experience STEM learning.
- Consider both horizontal linkages (such as connecting in-school K-16 STEM with out-of-school time/summer activities) and vertical linkages (such as connecting a program serving middle school students to a high school career exploration/college awareness or internship program).
- Create specific strategies to include parents and families across STEM learning settings, including in school and out-of-school.
- Employ evidence-based strategies to promote successful STEM learning for underserved youth in and out-of-school.
- Develop approaches to continuous improvement, informed by shared data, to increase quality in all programmatic settings.
- Support reflection and peer learning across settings.