Focus on Current Programs

Schools Program

The Museums are very proud to offer offer the Schools Program, part of our Museum education programs. Education is a top priority in the Museums’ Strategic Plan, and our commitment is to strengthen education for all students 4th through 11th grade in the US.

The Schools Program is is a four-part standards-based Museum
education program. These unique educational experiences emphasize science literacy and begins with first introductory courses for students. Second, the Program continues with more advanced courses. Third, students can next experience inquiry-based guided webinars. Fourth, students can engage in maker activities with visiting scientists and engineers, exploring science concepts through hands-on activities, reviewing concepts and vocabulary as they reflect on the Museums’ courses experiences. The entire Schools Program actively engages students and teachers through inquiry-based activities connected to current Common Core Standards.

We have been developing strategic and tactical plans for the  Schools Program and building important alliances with key organizations for more than two years. The Program engages and explores the wonders of the STEM world through special educational programs for 4th through 11th grade students throughout the US. The Schools Program is something very new to encounter, something fresh, and expands our understanding of our world.

The Program offers choices from a range of STEM class courses, all of which are carefully selected to adhere to current standards, and focus students’ excitement into learning astronomy and electronics science.

The Museums offer a diverse set of courses designed to challenge students to think critically about a wide range of STEM topics, starting with learning the basics of electronics and astronomy.

The Schools Program is a highly collaborative effort, flowing primarily from the cooperative actions of our Alliances. The Schools Program cultivates multiple important audience groups:

  • The external audiences of:
    • 4th through 11th grade students
    • Community stakeholders
    • Museum Members,
  •  The internal Museum audiences of:
    • Staff
    • Boards
    • Volunteers

Starting with the Jefferson County School District in late 2016, our alliances now include wonderful partnerships with the two leading companies in electronics education and astronomy, Elenco Electronics, Inc. and Orion Telescopes & Binoculars.

We believe the conclusions are unambiguous, the Schools Program will have a direct effect on student knowledge, positively impacting student performance; with these capacity-building courses benefiting not only the students but also their participating teachers as well.

Status Update: We are now launching the Schools Program in January 2020 to all 4th through 11th grade classes in the US.

Why the Schools Program:

  • The U.S. Department of Education projects massive growth in jobs in the STEM industry, with an average job increase of 14% across all fields with major spikes expected in software, medical science, and biomedical engineering.
  • STEM industries have an outsized impact on the American economy.
  • More than half of America’s growth over the last 50 years has come directly from the innovative fields of STEM research and development.
  • Science student performance in the US is lagging on both national and international tests, in part because so many teachers lack the support they need.
  • The Schools Program will have a direct effect on teacher knowledge and will positively impact student performance in real life and in the formal and applied tests.

Highlights of the Schools Program:

  • Students across the country receive exclusive courses and kits.
  • The experience is out of the ordinary for the students participating in the Museums’ Schools Program.
  • One of the may reasons the Schools Program was established is to showcase the work of students who learn the sciences and histories of electronics and astronomy.
  • Making electronics and astronomy more accessible to broader audiences and newcomers is another goal of the Program.
  • The experience of seeing science come to life gets students thinking. That is what’s rewarding with learning. The Program provides physical kits and representations of what they’ve been learning, enhancing students’ abilities to share their scientific accomplishments through hands-on activities.
  • Offering a large range of STEM topics to choose from.
  • Teachers will receive lesson plans, student worksheets, and materials to conduct classroom science activities for students at no cost.
  • All programs align with the Common Core Standards.

Future Expansions of the Schools Program include:

  • Connecting engineers and scientists as guests to educate and spark interest in the fields of science.
  • Events including Meet the Scientist, which we are designing for students to ask questions, learn how scientists reached their current job positions, learn how current science is relevant to everyone, and even helping scientists with their research.
  • Workshops with the Museums for students to spend time learning about different disciplines.
  • Online webinars and lectures, diving into topics and adding to students’ expanse of knowledge by attending lectures from experts in the fields of astronomy, electronics, etc.
  • We are exploring professional development for educators, such as getting approved as a Continuing Professional Education Provider.
  • Explore Engineering.
  • We plan on expanding the Schools Program to technical schools and colleges as soon as possible later in 2020.

Alliances

Jefferson County School District

The Museums have been very pleased to work with senior Jefferson County School District people for more than two years. The District has been providing educational excellence for 70 years, serving nearly 85,000 students at 155 schools in Jefferson County Colorado.

Key District people were especially important during our early research efforts, singularly helpful in showing the Museums where our early ideas needed major re-thinking. Over two+ years, we continuously adjusted our strategic and tactical ideas and plans with critical inputs and advice from those District team members.

We have learned much from the District, from their:

  • Strategic Plan,
  • Conditions for Learning,
  • Readiness for Learning,
  • Supports for Learning: Communications, Finance, Legal, Operations, and Technology;
  • Generations Skills, What students need to pursue their life goals, To be able to successfully apply critically-needed competencies:
    • self-direction and personal responsibility,
    • communication,
    • critical and creative thinking,
    • civic & global engagement,
    • collaboration and leading by influence,
    • content mastery, and
    • agility & adaptability.
  •  from understanding the Jeffco Learning Model:
    • Plan the design of authentic tasks and experiences and the alignment of those with state content standards,
    • Teach the delivery of those tasks as learning experiences for students,
    • Assess formative measures of how students are doing toward mastering both skills and content, and
    • Reflect intentional time and space for teachers and students to consider their strength and growth areas.

With the help of the District, we eliminated several very ineffective delivery methods, finally determining the most effective delivery methods to achieve the objectives of the Program.

The US educational community is a very large and complex set of systems, and the Museums could not have developed the Schools Program without the help of our friends from the District team. They continue to provide advice and support, and will be watching closely to help the Museums make sure the Schools Program meets or exceeds the educational community’s needs, standards and best practices; with critical features such as the integration of sound project management principles with the instructional design approach and the incorporation of state and national standards throughout the entire Program.

Elenco Electronics, Inc.

The Museums are very pleased to partner with Elenco to supply high school classes across the country with educational kits and products that teach the basics of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Elenco’s pride is the award-winning and highly successful Snap Circuits product line, which teaches kids to have fun learning about electronics, engineering, science, and technology.

Snap Circuits have been endorsed by educators worldwide and used in schools, libraries, museums, after-school programs, STEM programs, and at home. Many of today’s rising engineers and scientists learned the basics of technology by playing and creating with Snap Circuits. Snap Circuits come in a variety of different kits, depending on size, theme, and configuration. The easy-to-use, full-color manuals give kids the power and self-confidence to build hundreds of exciting projects such as flying saucers, alarms, radios, doorbells, and much more. Kids can also use their imagination and create their own circuits! Before the STEM and Maker Movements, there was Elenco.

For 47 years, Elenco has developed educational kits and electronics testing equipment to teach electronics, science, and technology to budding engineers and scientists. Elenco’s motto — Learn by doing® — inspires, motivates, and challenges children of all ages to solve problems and practice real-life skills.

Orion Telescopes & Binoculars 

The Museums are very pleased to partner with Orion Telescopes & Binoculars to supply telescopes and binoculars to 4th through 11th grade high school classes across the country, including telescopes for every astronomy level from beginners, through intermediate, and advanced to expert levels, from Dobsonian telescopes to the most advanced Cassegrain telescopes.

In addition to telescopes, Orion will also supply high quality binoculars through the Schools Program, including astronomical binoculars, compact binoculars, waterproof binoculars, birding binoculars, and sport and hunting binoculars. Orion will also supply astrophotography telescopes and cameras to capture breathtaking photos. Orion accessories range from moon filters to power-boosting Barlow lenses to advanced computerized telescope mounts, telescope cases and covers, observing gear, red LED flashlights, astronomy books and star charts, all of which make students observing sessions more convenient, comfortable and meaningful.

Orion is committed to helping the Museums share their knowledge and passion for astronomy and astrophotography with every student in the country, with in-depth information on telescopes, binoculars, and astrophotography, “how to” tips, astronomy articles, events, & reviews, and also helping the Museums share students’ astronomy pictures on the Museums’ and Orion’s websites.

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