STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Adaptive Learning Software

Stuff this week - Adaptive Learning Software

Adaptive Learning Software sounds very complex but it just means software that teaches or assesses a student and at the same time learns what they do and don't know and then adapts its questions or exercises to only cover what they need. As a simple example, if the student knows what 2 times 5 is then why keep asking this in subsequent questions.
This also ties into a concept known as mastery learning. Consider a test given to three students where the results are 95%, 75% and 50%. All three students "pass" yet one student didn't know half of the content and even the best student had a gap in their knowledge (assuming the exam has been set well). In mastery learning students do not progress until they master 100% of the topic.
Adaptive learning software is able to narrow down the gaps and only deliver instruction and assessment for what is yet to be mastered. I highly recommend you watch Salman Khan's Ted Talk Let's Teach for Mastery - Not Test Scores to listen to his view on what is possible and where society could be heading.
So you might be thinking well this is all great in theory but actually this is available now! The Khan Academy is providing an adaptive mathematics course for free to help kids all over the world. My kids use this fantastic resource to generally check for gaps in their knowledge but also to reinforce what they are learning at school. I have also recently discovered xtramath.orgwhich focuses on basic math facts and is available from pre-grade 1 through primary. My kids are working their way through this as well. So far I have found them to be engaging and highly beneficial, so much more than the "math games" that the school has suggested they play.
Many schools are rolling out 1:1 device programs yet too often they are nothing more than a $1000 pencil. Yet they could be using these with adaptive software such as the two free programs I mentioned above or other paid programs such as Mathletics or Maths Pathway (both Australian companies by the way!). I have little exposure to either of these programs but each will have their strengths and schools should be leveraging these technological innovations to personalise learning for each child and to embrace the notion of mastery learning.
So much could be done if schools would do some SMART planning. Is your school using any adaptive software packages? If so, what has your experience been with them?

Stuff in the news

The Engineers of the Future Will Not Resemble the Engineers of the Past - An article from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers online magazine 30 May 2017
"When our grade one students who started school this year leave in 2027, it's going to be a totally different world" - A short talk by Professor Patrick Griffin on the Australian Learning Network  

Stuff to buy

Scientific Explorer's Mind Blowing Science Kit for Young Scientists - Simple science experiments to whet the appetite.
*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

Keeping up with STEM in the classroom - Starting in 2019, teachers in Washington state (USA) will have to document professional development in STEM disciplines.
Looking outside comfort zone assists in educators’ growth - An education consultant is currently working on a professional learning development programme for Auckland school teachers of STEM subjects.

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Australian STEM Video Game Challenge - For grades 5+.The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge will ask participants to develop games in response to a central theme or idea. Registration open 1 May and submissions close 25 August.
Young ICT Explorers -  A non-profit competition, which has been created by SAP to encourage school students to create their best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects. Registrations are OPEN. See the YouTube video here!
CSIRO CREST Program - CREativity in Science and Technology. Engage your students with open-ended science investigations and technology projects through the CREST program.
Edutech 2017 - EduTECH is the LARGEST education event in Asia-Pac and the Southern Hemisphere. 7-9 June 2017 in Sydney.
National Science Week - Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology and thousands of individuals – from students, to scientists to chefs and musicians – get involved, taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation. 12 - 20 August 2017
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club
Code Club Australia - A network of coding clubs for kids aged 9 to 11.

Stuff to do in Brisbane

Robogals Holiday Workshops - Robogals from UQ are advertising for their next holiday sessions in June. Get in quick! (Grades 4+)
Robotronica 2017 - Robotronica is a groundbreaking one-day event showcasing the latest developments in robotics and interactive design. QUT's The Cube 20 August 2017 
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Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
STEAMPUNX - Not to be confused with the organisation above! Offers in-school and out of school workshop programs
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane
It's Rocket Science School Incursions - Educational and fully interactive project based rocket science incursions for primary and secondary schools in a safe and empowering learning environment.

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