RAFT participates in growing the next generation of science innovators with NYSCi

Jan 17th, San Jose, CA – Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT), a non-profit organization that has been promoting hands-on interactive learning for 18 years, shared it’s expertise on hands-on teaching methods at the “Design, Make, Play: Growing the next generation of science innovators” workshop held at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCi) January 13-14.

NYSCi in collaboration with O’Reilly Media hosted a two-day workshop last weekend to discuss the potential for making, designing and engineering hands on activities in formal and informal learning environments and to build evidence that these alternative programs engage kids in learning.

The seminar brought together scientists, engineers, technologists, learning science researchers, makers, educators and representatives from federal agencies and educational philanthropies to consider how the do-it-yourself mindset can catalyze innovation in Science, technology, engineering and Math (STEM) education.

Mary Simon, Executive Director and Founder at RAFT, was one of the attendees who explored the connection of Making to education. RAFT, a pioneer in hands-on education since 1994, has always focused on transforming teaching through the use of engaging educational activities that inspire the joy and discovery of learning. Describing her experience at the workshop, Mary Simon says, “It was a great workshop. We want kids to get engaged and excited about the relevance of STEM in their everyday lives and to reduce the dropout rate. We need kids to be ‘stoked’ about STEM education. This is our focus at RAFT where we make educational concepts fun for kids to learn.”

During the event, participants engaged in project based activities, including design challenges, engineering activities, robotics and making. There was agreement that the culture of schooling is at odds with innovation and that kids need to be empowered with the 21st century skills – critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication.

The weekend ended with a thoughtful discussion on identifying the goals of STEM education and capturing the evidence that these goals are achieved. The workshop contributors also discussed ways to assess learning, looking for evidence of knowledge transfer from one situation to another, content knowledge and the ability to build on ideas.

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