NAVY STEM CLASSROOM RESOURCES

  • May 04, 2016

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With all the emphasis lately on STEM-related fields as viable career paths it’s worth noting that, with regard to preparing young people for the future, the United States military is among the most effective training grounds, turning out large numbers of disciplined, well-trained professionals each and every year.

With that in mind, we’re happy to report that Discovery Education has teamed-up with the United States Navy to offer Navy Stem, a collection of free, online-based interactive lesson plans specifically designed for grades 9 through 12. From the physics of flight to the engineering of future ships, it’s an engaging and valuable resource with an emphasis on careers.

Lesson plans are geared to Common Core Math, Next Generations Science, and ISTE Standards.

Check it out for yourself on the official Navy STEM website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

Image: Discovery Education

Introduce Your Students to a Top Young Scientist!

  • Feb 25, 2016

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Hannah Herbst was in the 7th grade, just beginning to realize her love for science and engineering, when a letter from her 9-year-old Ethiopian pen pal changed her life.

The younger girl described what it was like to live with no access to lights, a steady flow of fresh water, and other basic necessities, and Hannah was moved. As she said in a blog post, “I recognized that her situation was not unique and believed that I could use the skills I acquired to take action in an attempt to mitigate the global energy crisis.”

Inspired by a science teacher, Hannah set to work creating an energy probe prototype designed to offer a stable power source to developing countries via untapped energy from ocean currents—a brilliant accomplishment that won Hannah the title of America’s 2015 Top Young Scientist.

And seeing Hannah in action (video, below), you’ve got to believe she’s only getting started.

Do you think that meeting Hannah might change the lives of your students? Find out for yourself by signing-up for a free, live online event on Tuesday, March 8th at 1pm ET, wherein Hannah will share her unique invention, talk about her experiences in the challenge, and answer questions from students.

For more information, visit the Young Scientist Challenge website.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Adventures in Math

  • Nov 05, 2015

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If you’re looking for a fun, engaging way to frame mathematics for primary students, look no further than Cyberchase, an Emmy Award-winning  educational series from PBS.

Geared to children ages 8-12 (grades 3-5), Cyberchase depicts a colorfully animated fantasy world wherein young heroes (and their cyberpal, Digit) must protect cyberspace from a hilariously villainous troublemaker named Hacker. Less a battle of good against evil than a match between mischief and intellect, each episode finds the kids using math concepts to thwart Hacker’s latest scheme. It’s all in good fun, and very funny, especially scenes involving Hacker’s somewhat less capable henchmen, Buzz and Delete.

Each episode concludes with a live-action segment entitled “For Real,” wherein young people use math to figure out solutions to everyday problems.

The show’s stated philosophy includes a mission statement comprising four basic goals: To foster enthusiasm for math in the critical years when too many children decide they do not like or are not good at the subject; to model math reasoning and help children improve their problem-solving skills; to demonstrate the usefulness of math; and to inspire all children to approach math with confidence and a “can-do” attitude.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Cyberchase has been found via independent researchers to have a very positive impact on young math students. You can download and review those studies here.

There’s also an extensive Teacher’s Guide available for free on the PBS Kids GO! web site, chock full of activities and lesson plans which coincide with specific episodes.

Cyberchase airs weekday mornings on PBS (check local listings).
NOTE: Episodes may be recorded and archived for classroom use for up to one year.

To learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Explore a New World of Learning

  • Oct 16, 2015

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Mars is everywhere these days, figuratively speaking. From breathtaking imagery captured by the Curiosity Rover, and growing excitement over possible evidence for Martian water, to NASA’s recent announcement of 3-part plan to put people on Mars within two decades, it’s safe to say that the red planet is having a moment.

Heck, it’s even co-starring in a hit movie with Matt Damon!

All this excitement presents teachers with a golden opportunity—a chance to present real-world  STEM application to young people who are watching scientific history play out before their eyes. Luckily, our friends at NASA Education are ready to help educators make the most of this opportunity with an exhaustive online collection of Mars-related STEM resources they call the Mars Survival Kit.

Well organized and easy to navigate, the site offers standards-based classroom projects and lesson plans for students in kindergarten through high school. And it’s all free of charge.

Check out the Mars Survival Kit for yourself.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

Note: NASA TV is channel 346 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE programming package.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Share Your Passion for Math and Science and You Could Win a College Education!

  • Sep 17, 2015

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The Breakthrough Junior Challenge—presented by the Breakthrough Prize and Khan Academy—invites students 13 through 18 to submit a 10-minute video that illustrates a challenging concept or theory of mathematics, life sciences, or physics in an engaging, illuminating, and creative way. Make the best video and you’ll win a $250,000 post-secondary scholarship! Seriously.

That’s an amazing prize, and an amazing opportunity. And there are also prizes available for participating teachers and schools.

The deadline for submission is October 7, 2015—so get busy!

To learn more, check out the video below. Then visit the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Space Station STEM Ed

  • Sep 03, 2015

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One does not have to be a rocket scientist in order to recognize that space travel is probably the greatest commercial there is for STEM. I mean, talk about an education taking you places!

But what really sells the point is the fact that it is nearly impossible to discuss any aspect of space travel without at least touching on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics involved—real-world application of STEM principles by ordinary people who once sat in classrooms just like yours.

And are not so ordinary anymore.

That’s the kind of big-picture thinking that can inspire students, and, fortunately, NASA Education is in the business of thinking big.

Which brings us to STEM on Station, NASA Education’s out-of-this-world educational web site celebrating the year-long mission to the International Space Station. Informative, timely, and easy to use, the site is packed with free learning resources, including a large collection of STEM-based lesson plans for grades K-12.

As with space itself, there is lots to discover. So visit STEM on Station today.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

Note: NASA TV is channel 346 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE programming package.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

Meet DIRECTV Math Achievement Award Winner Gabe Wooley — a City Year Tutor and Mentor With the Heart of a Teacher

  • Aug 06, 2015

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Our 2015 DIRECTV Math Achievement Award winners are an impressive group of young people. Beyond the passion for public service that led them to become AmeriCorps Members—devoting a year of their lives to service as tutors and mentors to struggling students in high-poverty communities—what stands out so clearly among them is a recognition of their responsibility to help kids learn the important skills and lessons that they themselves have learned.

This week, we’d like you to meet 2015 DIRECTV Math Achievement Award winner Gabe Woolley (right).


Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to become a Corps Member.

I’m 20 years old, from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I graduated from Broken Arrow high school in 2013, then began working full time for 2 years before working at a summer camp last summer. I ended up loving it so much that I knew I wanted my next job to be something with children. I heard about City Year Tulsa from a friend at church & decided to apply. I joined 2014-2015 City Year Tulsa team and I loved it!

Where did you serve?

I served my first year in City Year at Sequoyah Elementary School with the 4th grade. I worked with an awesome teacher and some amazing students.

What math concept or unit was the most challenging for your students at Sequoyah to grasp, and how did you overcome it?

Several of my students struggled with remembering the steps for math problems. Specifically, multiplication. They would often miss one or two steps and their answers would come out wrong, so I would constantly remind them of the missing steps and walk them through problems using the “Think Aloud” method, which involves doing a problem while talking about each step, and why I was doing it. Then I would have them walk me through one of their problems using the “Think Aloud” method, as if I were then the student.

Was there ever a classic “A-ha” moment when you could just sort of see the lights go on as your students grasped a concept?

I don’t think I had one huge “A-ha” moment, but I had little ones every day—each time a student grasped something that they didn’t get before. It would make me smile every time. So I guess their “A-ha” moments were also my “A-ha” moments, seeing them slowly come to believe in their own capability.

Have math concepts always come easily to you, or did you struggle with the subject? Was there a teacher or mentor in your past that influenced your ability to inspire math achievement?

Growing up, math was always my weakness. My hardest class and my lowest grade. I actually almost failed 4th grade because of my low math grade. By the time I got to high school my math grades slowly started to improve. I still never liked math growing up. I did have two very creative and positive math teachers my freshman year of high school. I would say they were the best math teachers I ever had. They’re really the only ones I remember.

What advice do you have for teachers, mentors and other Corps Members who work with struggling students?

Keep patience and love for each student and their potential. It will keep you motivated and rewarded. Every student can get to the same place. Some just need a little extra patience and love.

DIRECTV is committed to supporting (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning at K-12 schools, with a strong focus on math as the foundation for organized thinking and problem-solving. What are your thoughts on the importance of STEM subjects, and especially math, for today’s students and their futures?

The way things are going shows me more and more each day the importance of STEM subjects. Expanding you’re knowledge of them will only take you further in this world.

 And what about your future? What are your plans?

I plan to serve one more year with City Year and with my students while taking college classes at Tulsa Community College for a Spanish Degree. I am also considering pursuing a degree in Elementary Education.

Fantastic. Best of luck, Gabe!

NOTE: For more information on City Year, visit the organization’s official web site.

And be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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DIRECTV Math Achievement Award Winner Olu Akinrimisi — a City Year Tutor and Mentor — Believes That Hard Work and Relationships Have Been His Keys to Success

  • Jul 10, 2015

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One thing all of our 2015 DIRECTV Math Achievement Award winners have in common—aside from the fact that they’re all really good at math—is a passion for public service. That’s why they became AmeriCorps Members, devoting a year of their lives to service as tutors and mentors to struggling students in high-poverty communities.

Each year, we profile these outstanding young adults because they are role models for us all, recognizing their responsibility to help others and share the important skills and lessons they’ve learned in life.

This week, we’d like you to meet 2015 DIRECTV Math Achievement Award winner Olu Akinrimisi (right).


Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to become a Corps Member.

Well, I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised Long Beach, California. My parents moved to states as an act of selflessness. They sacrificed their passions to make sure their children had opportunity to achieve greatness. Moreover, I attended the University of California, San Diego, and from my experience there I was truly able to see the effect service can have on a community. After graduation, I wanted to make a large impact on under-served communities, and serving as a Corps Member was my opportunity.

Where did you serve, and what were some of the highlights and notable challenges you faced as a tutor and mentor at this school?

I served at Lee Mathson Institute of Technology in San Jose, California. The school had about 400 students, from grades 6 to 8. Lee Mathson is predominantly Latino/Latina, with very few Blacks and Asians. Serving for the Lee Mathson community was challenging. The students were faced with many obstacles such as drugs, sex, violence, discrimination, finance, and I can go on. All of these factors were a hindrance to their learning process and it was hard for me to not blame this unjust world for making my student fall behind.

What math concept or unit was the most challenging for your students to grasp, and how did you overcome this?

The most challenging topic was adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers. This is a topic a lot of the middle school students were suppose know before coming into middle school, however a lot of the students I tutored had no clue. I always took it back to the basics of simply adding and subtracting positive integers. Then I would relate it to money, because they loved money. I even made games where they had to use monopoly cash to invest and borrow. Relating math to reality really helped the students have a better grasp of the material.

Do you have a favorite classroom anecdote from your time with City Year?

One of my students had always been labeled as the troubled child, so teachers never really gave the student any academic attention. During our first math session the student refused to work and said, “I’m stupid, I can’t do this.” For the next five sessions or so we did nothing related to math and just worked on our relationship and getting to know each other. Once we got back into math the student trusted me and their skills improved.

Have math concepts always come easily to you, or did you struggle with the subject? Was there a teacher or mentor in your past that influenced your ability to inspire math achievement?

Math has always been a subject that I was fond of. During grade school I always achieved in math. However once I started high school, I noticed my natural talent for math wasn’t there anymore. That was when I really had to rely on hard work and effort. My 10th grade math teacher made sure to always challenge me even as I struggled. From that point I learned that struggling was good and it only meant that I was learning. From then on math only got harder, but stuck with the idea of hard work and was able to do well in it.

What advice do you have for teachers, mentors and other Corps Members that work with struggling students?

I believe it is critical to establish a connection with students, get to know them and let them get to know you. Then, work your way into tackling their struggle with math. Also, try to make the learning interactive and real-life based, because the students are more likely to retain the new information being learned.

DIRECTV is committed to supporting (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning at K-12 schools, with a strong focus on math as the foundation for organized thinking and problem-solving. What are your thoughts on the importance of STEM subjects, and especially math, for today’s students and their futures?

I believe learning STEM subject is very important, not only to all students but especially for boy and girls of color. In STEM, people of color are a minority, due to many reasons such as social status, lack of educational resources, social environment, and etc. Furthermore, with our world moving toward high-tech it is important to get people into those fields, which means getting more students into college, which also means doing well in subjects such as math. Math is important because it is a critical building block into the world STEM.

 And what about your future? What are your plans?

I will be starting my first year of medical school at the University of California, San Diego. Also, I am in the PRIME-HEq program, which is an inclusive group that will be trained to identify the health disparities within communities in California. Finally, as a physician I want to specialize in pediatrics and work in under-served communities.

Outstanding. Thanks, Olu!

NOTE: For more information on City Year, visit the organization’s official web site.

And be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Meet Tiana Hill — Tutor, Mentor, Role Model, City Year Corps Member and DIRECTV Math Achievement Award Winner

  • Jul 02, 2015

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Beginning this week, we’re proud to introduce you to our 2015 DIRECTV Math Achievement Award winners.

Each of these young people has spent 12 months as an AmeriCorps Member, serving as tutors and mentors to struggling students in high-poverty communities. We think you’ll agree that their enthusiasm for teaching and public service is refreshing.

Our first interview is with Tiana Hill (right).

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and why you came to join City Year as a Corps Member.

I am from Chicago, Illinois, and I graduated from Miami University with a degree in Family Studies. I joined City Year because I want to be a positive role model to students who come from a similar background as me. I wanted to show them that where you come from doesn’t have to determine your future. Being a mentor and helping youth is my passion, and City Year gave me the opportunity to do that. I really love City Year’s mission and I wanted to be a part of it. Someday, I want to start my own community center back in Chicago and felt that City Year would give me experience and ideas that would help me make my dream come true.

And what about the school where you served? What were the highlights and challenges you faced as a tutor and mentor there?

I served at Broadmoor Middle School in Baton Rouge, which serves about 500 6-8th grade students. The school is majority low-income students—95% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Working with the students in the 7th grade was so amazing. Not only did I make an impact on them, but they made an impact on me. At first it was a challenge getting the students to focus on school. Sometimes, the students seemed not to be as invested in learning as they should be. Finding creative ways to get the kids engaged, however, was one of the highlights of my service—I got the opportunity to get to know them and used what they like to get them engaged. They loved to have a competition with one another, and especially against me. After discovering this I came up with games and activities that made them excited about learning even when we are not playing a game.

Briefly describe your history with math, have the concepts always come easily to you or did you struggle with the subject? Did you have a great math teacher or mentor in your past that influenced your ability to inspire math achievement?

Math has always been my favorite subject. In school math was the subject that I was always great at. I have had amazing math teachers throughout my years in school. Because math came easily to me, my high school math teacher, Mr. E, always went the extra mile to give me work that challenged me—even college level math. He is still one of my mentors today.

What math concept/unit was the most challenging for your students to grasp and how did you work with them to develop an understanding of it?

My students struggled with algebraic expressions and working with fractions. I created interactive lessons and used manipulatives, such as color-coded cards representing positive and negative integers, so that students knew to add and subtract more easily. This was the way my students learned best. They were very active and learned from hands-on learning.

Please share your favorite math-related anecdote from your time with City Year. For example, was there one student that really struggled to grasp a math concept that finally had an “a-ha!” moment, did you use a creative method to get a group of students excited about math?

One of my favorite moments this year was when my student, who struggled with the English language, answered a question during the “boys against girls math battle”. Her face lit up and she yelled out the answer. She was very quiet and had problems in her classes because she had just come from Vietnam and didn’t understand what we were saying. I started working with her one-on-one using Google Translate and other translation sites. After a while she started to pick up on the concepts. That day was the first time she answered a question without any help. Everyone in the class cheered her on and the look on her face was priceless. You could tell that she was very proud of herself.

What advice do you have for teachers, mentors and other City Year Corps Members that work with students who struggle with math?

Learn what your students are interested in and use that when planning lessons. Connect the math problems to something that they can relate to.

DIRECTV is committed to supporting (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning at K-12 schools, with a strong focus on math as the foundation for organized thinking and problem-solving. What are your thoughts on the importance of STEM subjects, and especially math, for today’s students and their futures?

STEM is very important for our students and their future because we use this in our everyday lives. As this world changes our children will have to know these valuable skills to survive and keep up with the world.

Lastly, what about your future? What are your plans?

I plan on getting my Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and Criminal Justice. I want to open up a Community Center that would provide extracurricular and tutoring for kids in low-income neighborhoods for free. I also plan on working with kids in the juvenile justice system.

 

NOTE: For more information on City Year, visit the organization’s official web site.

And be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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DIRECTV Brings Fun and Learning to a Denver Charter School

  • Jun 12, 2015

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DIRECTV and FOX visited Denver’s University Prep Elementary School (U Prep) during the last week of their 2014-2015 school year to host a live-action version of the hit TV show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader”. Our guest blogger Steve Demedis (below), who works in DIRECTV’s Communications department, was in attendance, and came away asking himself the same question.

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I am smarter than a fifth grader.

And I’ve been certain of this since the mid-90s. But as I stood in the back of the gymnasium at University Preparatory School (U Prep) in Denver, Colorado, a spectator at the DIRECTV-sponsored Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader event, my confidence began to waiver. I started to question the education I had received at Plum Point Elementary all those years ago.

What is a trapezoid? How many sides does a heptagon have? Which number is both a factor of 36 and a multiple of 3?

But what truly crushed my self-esteem was the eager enthusiasm, and dare I say swagger, with which the students – or “scholars” as they are called at U Prep – tackled these questions.

In the event, which DIRECTV hosted in partnership with FOX, third and fourth graders took turns taking the podium to answer math questions. They received points for correct answers and had a “panel” of classmates to turn to should they require assistance.

It was all meant to celebrate the school’s success with ST Math, a blended learning software program that was implemented at U Prep thanks to a 2014 grant from DIRECTV.

And this was a celebration. From the moment the students filed into the gymnasium-turned-gameshow-set, there was an energy in the room unlike anything I remembered from my days in elementary school. The kids spontaneously danced to the pop music mashups blaring through booming speakers (yes, U Prep is cooler than your elementary school). They clapped and chanted responses to the school’s energetic principal. And when math questions were posed to the audience, scholars nearly dislocated their arms, wildly thrusting their hands in the air in the hope that they would be called upon.

“This is a great example of how we are supporting STEM education in our local schools, and celebrating the successes of the students at the end of a long school year,” said Ron Hyland, a VP of Customer Care at DIRECTV who shared some remarks to start the event and is most certainly smarter than a fifth grader. “It’s incredible to see the engagement and energy of the students. They are proud to show what they’ve learned and eager to support each other.”

Ron hits on what was probably the most impressive thing I saw at the event. After the first contestant and eventual champion, fourth-grader Nakina Johnson, answered all five questions correctly, the next scholar found himself in the unfortunate position of being the first to answer incorrectly. The disappointment on his face at the sound of the buzzer was quickly washed away by the cheers and clapping of his peers, who picked him up with their unwavering support. He answered the next four questions correctly.

The kids who competed and cheered, along with their teachers, deserve the credit for what I experienced at this event. But I couldn’t help but take pride in being a small part of it as an employee of a company whose Corporate Citizenship mission is to foster K-12 education.

The impact we are having on young people, naturally, has greater meaning when you see it in person. But it really hits home, when you see Billy Milton Jr., a team leader at the Denver Customer Care Center, in attendance.

Billy’s daughter Shayla, a third grader at U Prep, had been selected as a panelist to help the contestant from her class answer questions. Billy was there to watch.

“It’s amazing to see. I knew this is a great school, but I didn’t know that DIRECTV was a part of that,” said Billy. “I love that the company recognizes the work this school is doing and promotes it.”

University Prep is a tuition-free public charter school that focuses on college the second a child walks through its doors. It is one of three schools in the Denver metro area we sponsor through the ST Math grant.

“Having a corporate sponsor in DIRECTV is critical to our mission of preparing each of our students to go on to college. It’s not an easy thing to do, but DIRECTV believes in that mission and understands that seeing it to reality takes a real investment of time, money, and resources,” said the school’s headmaster David Singer. “What they do to enhance the education we provide our students is incredible.”

Kudos to the Corporate Citizenship team at DIRECTV for creating an incredible event. I left U Prep on Tuesday afternoon impressed by the scholars and teachers, proud of DIRECTV’s work to improve our local community, and eternally thankful that my paycheck doesn’t hinge on my being able to do fifth grade math.

Just for fun, take a shot at the following math problem from the event, and prove to yourself that you’re smarter than a 5th grader:

There are 100 students in the school. On Valentine’s Day, each student gives every other student one card. How many cards are exchanged in total?

—Steve Demedis

NOTE: For more news and information about free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 

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