2019 Winter STEM Education News Roundup

February / 2019

Read through five current articles that will excite you about the current state of STEM learning and give you a glimpse of its future!

Welcome to the latest edition of our STEM Education News Roundup! Because our game activates brain development and improves skills critical for STEM learning, the Blocks Rock! team is always keeping watch for the latest STEM news.

We’ve pulled together 5 recent STEM articles that we hope inspire you to be excited about the future of STEM learning! Read until the end to learn more about a bonus research article about Blocks Rock

White House Outlines Five-Year STEM Push

By: Lauren Camera, Education Reporter at U.S. News

In December, the White House announced a five-year plan for science, technology, engineering and math education that “charts a course for the Nation’s success.” The goal of this plan is for every American to master basic STEM concepts, to increase access to STEM among underserved students, and to encourage students to pursue STEM careers.

Standout Quote: "We need national leadership to attend to these challenges...We must find new ways to bring more of America into STEM and keep them there,” said France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation.

Click here to read this article

Examining ways to meaningfully support students in STEM

By: Lisa Martin-Hansen (2018) This research commentary was in the International Journal of STEM Education. As described in the abstract, “in this commentary, major concepts are explored within and among four different research studies with implications regarding STEM or science identity.”

While this article is heavy with scientific terms, it’s an enlightening look at how someone’s STEM identity, “how a person views herself in terms of being a mathematician, scientist, engineer, or perhaps a computer programmer”, can shape whether or not someone will enter a STEM field. The article also looks at how different experiences, both positive and negative, can affect the formation of a STEM identity.

Standout Quote: “Understanding science identity and implementing actions to positively impact science identity is crucial for learning and recruitment of diverse students into science, technology, and computer science, mathematics, and engineering careers.”

Click here to read this article.

STEM Remains Strong Contender for DonorsChoose Dollars

By: Dian Schaffhauser 

 As this article states, “STEM projects are continuing to make the top 10 as a category on teacher funding site DonorsChoose. According to the organization, over the past four years, computer science and coding projects grew two and a half times faster than other project types.” Learn more about STEM and DonorsChoose by reading this article. 

Standout Quote: "A "community impact" database made available by the nonprofit showed that a total of 15,114 applied sciences projects were funded for the latest school year; those involving math added up to 10,439.” Click here to read this article.

Note: We’ve had several people use Donors Choose to buy Blocks Rock! for their classroom! You can do it too!

Listen Up: We Can Bridge the STEM Divide with Family Engagement Strategies that Empower

By Linda Kekelis and Ron Ottinger

In this article, the STEM Next Opportunity Fund responds to the Global Family Research Project’s paper that highlights the importance of family engagement in STEM learning. The writers share three key takeaways for family engagement in STEM and highlight its importance. Here are their three key takeaways: 1. Advocate relentlessly for the under-represented, 2. Empower families in STEM, and 3. Be aspirational and inspirational. Read the article to learn more!

Standout Quote:  “By sixth grade, economically advantaged children have spent 6,000 more hours learning out of school than youth born in under-resourced communities.[1] The statistic is sobering.”

Click here to read this article.

Access to STEM Instruction Is Uneven

By Hank Nourse

This letter to the editor is a reply to an article about a study that found students and teachers continue to experience inequitable access to STEM-related classes and resources, according to a new survey of 1,200 schools and 7,600 teachers. You can learn more about the study and a proposed solution by reading the article.
Standout Quote: "Investing in teacher professional development and ensuring that schools in underserved communities have highly qualified instructors would be a good start to address the deficiencies in our STEM education system.”

Click here to read this article.

Bonus: The Effect of Block Building on Mental Rotation Ability

Did you know that Blocks Rock! was studied by the Indiana University Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences? It’s true! They found that “structured block-building games improve spatial abilities in children to a greater degree than board games”. Students with higher spatial reasoning abilities will then have a higher likelihood of furthering their education and careers in STEM.  

Standout Quote: "This study corroborates with past research that structured block play needs to be a part of the young student’s classroom experience.”

For more information about the study, click here.