If you were to ask a group of high school students to raise their hands if they were interested in, or thought they were good at math or science, recent statistics claim that few of those students would be excitedly waving their arms and shouting, “Me! Me!”
That’s because, when it comes to mathematics and the sciences, American teen-agers rank at about midpoint — and behind many advanced industrial nations — when faced with such things as chemistry flasks and quadratic formulas.
In fact, results from the most recent PISA testing (Programme for International Student Assessment) place America’s high schoolers in 38th place out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. U.S. students ranked 30th in math and 19th in science among the 35 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
So you can understand our excitement at being selected to partner with Northwestern University to bring a FUSE laboratory to our campus. As part of its NextUp initiative to interest teens in tech careers, CompTIA has partnered with FUSE at Northwestern University in a program that is equipping 21 schools in nine states with an interactive FUSE Studio.
As a result, we recently took possession of FUSE laboratory materials, thus creating a new on-campus, interest-driven learning experience that engages our students in science, technology, engineering, arts/design, and mathematics (STEAM) topics.
The studio itself offers a physical space that enables Eagle Rock students to engage in STEAM initiatives outside of class, using personal choice and curiosity to augment their educational experience. As a result, those students who might not believe they could ever master a working knowledge of math or science find a topic or project that is of interest to them.
For instance, a student might want to design their own dream home, create electrical clothing, design jewelry, build a solar-powered vehicle or dabble in the wonders of 3D printing. In fact, one of our first projects using the three-dimensional printer was to make a hot pink triceratops skull. Now that’s certainly more interesting than a geometric sequence of numbers.
Here’s how the studio operates at Eagle Rock School:
- The core activities available in the studio all include a set of challenges.
- Each challenge uses a “leveling up” model from gaming that is designed to capture teens’ interest in different tech topics and skill sets.
- Offerings include challenges in robotics, electronics, graphic design, biotechnology and other fields.
These challenges offer an enticing means of exploring science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math in a relaxed, informative and entertaining atmosphere. As our students “level up” through the challenge sequence, they find themselves developing problem-solving skills, becoming more creative and acquiring the practice of persistence to resolve a complex issue.
And they’re doing all this in an environment with other students, which allows them the luxury of constructive feedback, praise for work well done, confidence, and collaboration with others with whom they may have only had a nodding acquaintance prior to initiating a project.
Curious to learn more about FUSE? If so, just visit https://www.fusestudio.net.