Education Technology

How to Keep Kids’ STEM Skills Sharp This Summer

Posted 05/23/2018 by Ellen Fishpaw (@ellenfishpaw)

While school may be winding down, it’s not a time for students to stop learning, especially when it comes to STEM subjects. Turns out, the summer learning loss, often referred to as the summer brain drain, is a real thing. The National Summer Learning Association reports that students lose an equivalent of two months of their grade-level math computational skills over the summer.* And, when kids return to school in the fall, about nine out of 10 teachers will spend as much as three weeks on review, because of summer learning loss. 

 The good news – your friends at TI have come up with five ways to help keep students’ STEM skills sharp this summer, and we’re sharing them with you:

 #1. Meet the “STEM Squad”

Starting now through September, TI’s STEM Squad will visit kids across the country sharing some of our favorite project-based learning activities that engage kids with math, science and basic engineering. The STEM Squad made its first stop in Charleston, SC, this week, where students across seven schools got to learn basic programming by working with the TI-Innovator Hub and the TI-Innovator Rover. Many of the kids were having so much fun, they didn’t even realize they were learning important math and science skills. And, the STEM Squad has several other visits up their sleeve. Who knows? TI’s STEM Squad may pop up at a school or summer camp near you.

 #2. Experiment with TI’s STEM activities

We’re currently having fun experimenting with a selection of activities that introduce students from middle school through high school to STEM and basic engineering. For example, students can learn how to program an alarm that alerts an owner if they forget their pet in a hot car. Or, kids can experiment with robotics as they learn to program our calculator-controlled robotic car, Rover, to navigate a volcano on Mars. Interested in learning more? Check out our STEM resources here.

#3. Join us for a live, virtual field trip

TI will host live, virtual field trips this summer to give even more students an opportunity to engage with STEM. We’re fresh off a visit to NASA’s Johnson Space Center where we went to chat with astronaut Joe Acaba, who has logged a total of 306 days in space on three missions. Check it out: Meet a NASA Astronaut. Next month we’ll be visiting the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas’ brand-new STEM Center of Excellence, a sprawling 92-acre living laboratory in Dallas, TX, that provides year-round opportunities in robotics, computer coding, botany, chemistry and more. Other field trips will follow.

#4. Leverage learning from vacations

Everyone wants to have fun over the summer, and the great outdoors, amusement parks and beaches can help provide that. But challenging your students to find out a few facts about the physics behind their favorite roller coaster or analyzing the tides of the ocean can help them maintain their academic edge. You may be surprised what a trip to the beach can yield!

 #5: Get in the game

Let your students explore the math and science behind a well-executed field goal, to make the game-winning play, with our STEM Behind Sports series. These activities for the TI-84 Plus family and the TI-Nspire CX put students in the middle of competition and challenges them to make meaningful connections between math and science. It might just give your students an edge while their friends are busy playing catch-up.

*Excerpted from “Doesn’t Every Child Deserve a Memorable Summer?,” published by the National Summer Learning Association.