Last week, NICERC headed to the National Science Teachers Association Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. While these education conference exhibitions are a great place to introduce ourselves to educators and let them know about our free resources, it’s a two way street. They’re also important settings for us to listen, ask questions, and to take notice of what educators’ current needs and barriers are.
Below is a (purely anecdotal) list of the most common interactions we have when connecting with STEM educators.
…to which we say, “Yes! FREE curricula!”
The United States Department of Homeland Security supports NICERC through a grant to develop and distribute cyber, STEM, and computer science curricula to educators. That means that as an educator within the United States, this curricula is yours to use and teach at no cost to you. All you have to do is request access. Once we verify that you are a K-12 educator in the US, you’re granted access to NICERC courses through Canvas… and the fun begins. Download teacher notes, student versions, assessments, and other resources from the courses you wish to implement.
It seems that many teachers are assigned a goal of delivering coding and robotics to their students, but are left to their own devices to figure out the best way to achieve it. When asked “where do I start?”, our answer is usually to hand them a list of NICERC curricula, a business card, and the answer “let us help you.”
At NICERC, we realize that coding and robotics can be daunting for many teachers who do not have prior experience. That’s why we offer grant-funded professional development to accompany access to our curricula. We’re here to take the scary factor out of teaching cyber content, as well as provide practical guidance on classroom challenges like choosing technology platforms, managing your technology, and making sure your lessons hit relevant notes to retain your students’ interest.
At our booth, we have a small army of robots lined up for teachers to inspect. They range from the micro:bit, about as big as a pack of gum, to the Parallax bots that are about as big as a pint of ice cream on wheels.
A vital component of NICERC curricula is technology integration, which is where the robots and devices come in. We don’t just cover how to make a device “go”, but instead use robots (and the coding/programming of them) to discover and explore important STEM concepts.
We decide on what platforms to integrate into our curricula according to a short list of attributes – among them are versatility, durability, user-friendliness, and cost. When deciding what platform to use in your classroom, consider these things.
· What’s your budget?
· Do you already have any technology sitting around you could use?
· How many devices would you ideally like per student?
· What programming languages do you plan on teaching?
· How much time do you have to teach this material? Do you need help answering any of these question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we had the pleasure of meeting you at a conference recently, we hope you’ve had a chance to check out our free resources. If you haven’t gotten around to it just yet, we’re here for you year round! Finish out this school year strong, take a little breather, and then get in touch with us to start planning how to launch into 2019-2020 ready to prepare your students for cyber success.