There has been a strong push lately to infuse more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning into schools across the country and at all levels. Some school districts, like Modesto City Schools in California, are implementing new buildings and workspaces for students in kindergarten through 6th grade. The Delaware Department of Education recently partnered with Discovery Education and DuPont to provide K-12 teachers with more STEM-focused digital resources. Today, Vernier Software & Technology, an Oregon-based educational technology company that develops STEM books and gear for teachers around the world, has developed a web-based platform for high school classrooms.
Vernier said in a press release last week that Vernier Connections, which is put together by a team of educators with feedback from teachers, will have projects and surveys that provide students with more interactive experiences while increasing the STEM literacy, helping students think critically and training them to solve difficult problems. He said the tool is a response to the changing education landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be tested at the start of the next academic year.
Educators using the platform will still be able to create their own content, allowing them to meet the requirements of a given school district. But the tool will also complement their courses with Vernier’s curriculum, according to the statement. Activities are divided into sections, allowing users to see how many sections they have completed. Work is submitted on the platform, giving teachers an overview of the student’s progress. Eventually, according to the press release, the platform will include a wealth of educational content, assessments, management tools and other resources.
“It will be a great way for teachers to be able to create their own activities, but with built-in assessment tools, built-in grading methods, and it ties into their (learning management system) which should be a easier way to do hands-on, project-based learning in a science classroom,” said Vernier CEO John Wheeler. Government Technology.
Wheeler said educators, many of whom have been involved in writing the Next Generation Science Standards, have expressed interest in helping flesh out their product. One thing Wheeler noted is that there will be a professional development component to help train teachers on how to use the tool, as well as support from Vernier staff as teachers implement it into their program. That said, Wheeler was confident that the tool will be intuitive and increase classroom efficiency.
“It’s the next evolution. Instead of having to have a separate piece of paper and then you write everything down on a piece of paper and hand it back, it incorporates all of that, hoping to save the teacher time, but also to have a richer experience,” he said.
Vernier will continue to develop the program throughout the pilot program and ramp up efforts in early 2023, hoping to have a full rollout of the service by March or April of next year, Wheeler said.