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SCIENCE is All Around Us by Amanda Miller Allen

The data is in and the conclusion is indisputable: STEAM opportunities for metro Atlanta kids have grown exponentially in the past year. In everyday language, that’s more and more rapidly. A common theme of the STEAM programs across metro Atlanta is to help students see science all around them.

Kids participate in a design challenge to simulate ways to place a sensor into a volcano during the Chief Science Officers’ Summer Institute at Georgia Tech.

“If they can see the benefits of science in their everyday lives, they gain a better appreciation of it,” says Meisa Salaita, cofounder of Science ATL, which will offer year-round programs and events. “Atlanta is truly a science city – home to tremendous learning opportunities and a variety of STEM careers.” Some highlights in science, technology, engineering, art and math education: The Atlanta Science Festival has expanded, a new $20 million STEM building has ramped up enthusiasm at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and Atlanta International School’s Space Program has students preparing an experiment for the International Space Station. Outside the classroom, kids are finding opportunities to learn with field trips to museums and nature centers, in school clubs, at summer STEAM camps and with board games or computer games that teach critical thinking and strategy. This year’s Atlanta Science Festival will be bigger, with many events for kids, adults and families already sold out. Previous festivals have drawn more than 53,000 attendees, with some families driving hours to attend. (More on the Science Festival, page 60.)

Festival organizers were inspired to create Science ATL, which already has launched a number of programs, including a monthly calendar of STEAM events and a fellowship program in communication skills for post graduate students. A fun event coming up May 4, the 5K Race Through Space at Piedmont Park, will have runners racing from the Sun to Neptune, and a 1-mile Fun Run will go from the Sun to Saturn. Along the race route, students from nine schools will hold posters, dress in costumes and shout out facts as the runners pass each planet. The Earth appears fairly early in the route, but Neptune is a long, long, long way away. Find out more at scienceatl.org. At Holy Innocents’, students taking computer science courses have doubled – and that’s only one result of the STEM building that opened in 2015. Two more: An engineering course has expanded to a three-year program and art students are creating

Characteristics of STEM Learning Activities that meet these criteria help build on kids’ natural curiosity and interest in the world: n  Learning grounded in real-world problems or phenomena that kids care about.

n  Kids take ownership of learning, including planning and carrying out investigations.

n  Kids collaborate and connect with peers. n  Kids experience and learn from failure, to understand it is a critical component of STEM learning.

n  Kids identify key questions and/or define problems for investigation.

n  Kids use mathematical and/or computational thinking. n  Kids create models, construct explanations, and/or design solutions based on evidence. Students at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School work on an art project featuring 4,500 coded LED lights.

48 Atlanta Parent    March 2019

Source: Shari Liss, CEO of Ignited, igniteducation.org

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