Connecting Every Classroom to Exceptional STEM Learning

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Arianna Lambie teaches a project-based lesson on earthquake proof buildings to her 7th grade class.

by Arianna Lambie

When I was a classroom teacher, I was always on-line. I tried hard to stay up to date with cutting-edge teaching resources in science.  Given how many resources are out there, it was a nearly impossible task.

Over the last few months, I’ve had the honor of speaking with leaders from many of the most reputable STEM organizations in the country.  We’ve discussed each other’s work and missions, and I’ve invited them to distribute their educational content through the Planet Lab network.  In less than two months, Planet Lab has developed partnerships with more than 25 federal, academic, and local STEM institutions who’ve resolved to share their educational material through Planet Lab, making it easy for teachers and students to find exceptional learning content. Working together, we will build the first-of-its-kind library of searchable, standards-aligned, project-based and multi-media STEM resources.

What also impressed me was the enthusiasm with which many of the STEM organization representatives responded to Planet Lab.  They saw it as filling a vital, unmet need. Tony Beck from the National Institute of Health (NIH) valued the networking aspect of Planet Lab: “A lot of major organizations are doing great work in the area of STEM education, but we don’t often talk to each other.  You are providing a tremendous service.” Robert Ridky of the US Geological Survey (USGS) appreciated Planet Lab’s focus on cross-disciplinary project-based learning: “We need more relevant, interdisciplinary learning resources. Just because there a lot of good science things on the web does not mean that they are appropriate to an instructional setting. You and your team are doing important work.”

During this outreach process, I was struck by the wealth and depth of educational resources that STEM organizations are producing.  As an educator who frequently searches online for lesson supplements, I discovered countless new sites and new levels of resources that I wish I had known about when I was a classroom teacher.  It made me fully appreciate the way the Planet Lab network with grow opportunities for educators and students.

Encouraged by the positive response from this initial outreach, we continue to develop new partnerships with STEM organizations around the country.  From the content shared by our partners, our curriculum team will be able to build a full suite of quests and missions in subject areas ranging from ecology to electricity by Planet Lab’s launch in 2015.

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