My ImagineIT timeline includes several projects to increase both student and parent/family involvement in STEM, as well as strengthening the use of existing community partnerships I have helped establish at our school.
First, my 6th grade students will begin checking out STEM kits that I have earned through a www.donorschoose.org grant. Students will be expected to conduct the experiments at home, such as testing alternative energy devices such as solar cars and wind turbines, with at least one other family member, hopefully including at least one parent. They will then make their learning experience public by posting a journal entry in the form of a "World of Wonder" about the topic of the STEM kit they checked out, which will include at least one photo to our Google Classroom site.
Next, my students will continue to explore STEM concepts and phenomena in our classroom. Such topics include Energy explorations through a Project Need grant, as well as meteorology, astronomy, environmental sciences, and biological sciences.
Along the way of exploring various STEM units, I have partnered with STEM pros to come in and share their stories of their work in STEM fields such as engineering and medical sciences. Both pros and university students are participating from community partners such as Northwestern University, Project NEED, ComEd, and Argonne National Labs. Project NEED is actually sending an engineer to help lead a group of my 8th grade students to conduct a school-wide energy audit that they will share with our greater community.
Throughout the next several months I am planning STEM field trips to Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Challenger Learning Center, and an outdoor ecology trip along with ecologists from Friends of Chicago River. In each case, I am going the extra mile to include parents. For example, I am planning Saturday trips this year to the Museum of Science and Industry so our students and families can go support our 2 representative students who will be participating in this year's CPS citywide Science Fair in March, along with a trip to participate in Friends of Chicago River annual River Cleanup Day.
Two culminating projects that are essential to my ImagineIT will be held later in the year. One is our 2nd annual Family STEM event, and the other will be our first ever STEM career festival. Both events will include STEM pros and college students sharing their passions in various STEM fields and will provide opportunities for students and parents to interact with and learn from STEM pros. Both events will also showcase our students' work in STEM form throughout the year.
All of this work serves the main goal of increasing my students' yearning to pursue STEM as a viable high school, college, and career path in their futures, especially due to the fact that females and minority students continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields in our nation.