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Design2Learn kicks off year 2!

ExpandED Schools

By Emma Banay, Design2Learn Program Manager, and Sabrina Gomez, Director of ExpandED STEM Opportunities at ExpandED Schools. 

The 2017 Design2Learn Summer Institute at New York Hall of Science was recently featured on NY1. Click here to see the video. (Image: NY1)

Three-dimensional structures designed to stand up to an earthquake (from a do-it-yourself shake table) and Godzilla (the weight of blocks). A dowel structure designed with windows and doors to withstand a zombie-apocalypse. Miniature cars, composed of simple machines and household materials, powered by baking soda and vinegar. An investigation of a slime product gone wrong. What do all these inventive creations have in common? They were ideated, built and tested by imaginative educators trained in design-based teaching as part of the ExpandED Schools initiative, Design2Learn.

Based on the STEM Educators Academy, one of the first projects undertaken by the NYC STEM Education Network, Design2Learn provides professional development for educator teams composed of in-school science teachers and informal educators from community-based organizations working in after-school programs. Educators benefit from training together during the summer in design-based learning, science content and science standards. After the training, educator teams return to their schools to plan together and create engaging, STEM-rich activities that create a bridge between students’ in-school science learning and after-school enrichment. These experiences lead to deeper understanding of STEM concepts. The results? A more seamless experience between school and afterschool for educators and students, engaging projects that put student learning and exploration first and—our ultimate goal—an increase in students’ interest in and engagement with STEM subjects.

Design2Learn kicked off its second year in August, when science teachers and after-school educators attended a week-long Summer Institute held at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), a long-time member of the NYC STEM Education Network and champion of formal-informal professional development. Putting on their “student hats” for the first portion of the week, educators experienced a variety of design challenges first hand—from chemical-powered cars to 3-D structures—and learned by doing, as their students will. The training emphasized the NYSCI’s Design-Make-Play philosophy, and educators could certainly be seen at play. 

It wasn’t just fun and games, though. Educators walked away with a better understanding of what their students face when engaging in collaborative projects and spoke about their newfound appreciation for the challenges—and joys—of teamwork, taking turns, listening and respecting other’s ideas. The educator teams used what they learned about the engineering design process, science standards and effective collaboration to create relevant STEM lessons for their students. New and veteran educators were bolstered by the week’s preparation. One educator, a college senior, said, “because I’m the youngest one here, I think I learned a lot from everyone’s experience …after this, I feel like I could teach a lesson myself.”


 Click here to learn more about Design2Learn.

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