Imagination Station and TPS Work Together to Enhance STEM Learning
May 18, 2021
In 2020, the world was changed with the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic’s reach went far beyond health concerns and had lasting effects on the economy and education. People of color and from lower-income households were also disproportionately impacted by the adverse effects of the pandemic, including in our local area. Of the over 23,000 students served by Toledo Public Schools, 87% are considered economically disadvantaged and 69% are students of color. Toledo Public Schools also has more homeless students than any other district in Ohio. This left TPS students particularly vulnerable to learning loss due to the pandemic.
While the last year has been challenging, it’s also offered an unexpected opportunity for Imagination Station and Toledo Public Schools to deepen their relationship thanks to a grant graciously awarded from the Ohio Collaborative for Educating Remotely and Transforming Schools. The Connect to STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) grant, is a multi-faceted partnership between the science center and TPS to enhance STEMM education curriculum occurring in virtual and hybrid learning environments.
Connecting to STEMM consists of many layers including professional development for teachers, Virtual Field Trip experiences for students and much more.
More than 2,000 fifth-grade students and teachers received Forces and Motion kits containing all of the materials (and safety glasses) to complete seven hands-on activities including catapults, film canister rockets, straw rockets and more. Additionally, each teacher received a facilitator’s guide complete with activity directions, questions to deepen knowledge and data collection tools.
Virtual Field Trips
Fifth- and sixth-grade students and teachers connected with Imagination Station’s Extreme Scientists in more than 80 Forces and Motion Virtual Field Trips. During these field trips, students saw how several Imagination Station exhibits demonstrate forces and motion concepts, participated in live demonstrations with the Extreme Scientists, asked questions and viewed some examples of related experiments they could do using the Forces and Motion kits they received.
This portion of Connect to STEMM focused on professional development for teachers. It included multiple sessions with up to six contact hours available for all fifth-grade teachers. Two hours were facilitated by Imagination Station Team Members and focused on an overview of the program, the related Forces and Motion standard, an introduction in ways to engage students virtually and a deeper dive into three of the activities included in the student kits. The remaining time was given to content experts from Toledo Public Schools and covered the remaining activities from the kits as well as strategies for thoroughly covering the content standard.
Virtual Speaker Series: Picture Yourself in STEMM
This is the final component of the grant. A virtual speaker series, Picture Yourself in STEMM featured six diverse speakers from a wide variety of careers – everything from video game design to bio-hybrid robots. Students in grades three, four and five could watch live and hear about the featured speaker's careers and then ask questions. As an added bonus, the series was recorded so that teachers and students who were unable to view the sessions live would still be able to participate.