Sunday, August 29, 2010

Students in Nicaragua celebrate their new latrines!

Service Learning and Stem- Engaging Students to Learn

Wow! Can you believe that summer is almost over? For those of us that live in Minnesota, the Minnesota STATE FAIR signals the end of summer and the start of a new school year. The Fair also has the greatest selection of everything on a stick! It is not for those that are interested in "healthy" food. I must admit, that I savored the corn dog, and dabbled a little with the french fries and cheese curds. It was great! I visited the State Fair on "STEM Education" day. There were many local groups in attendance, promoting STEM based activities. There is quite a buzz around the country that is focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. (STEM) The need for students to take a good look at career fields in these areas is critical. How do we as teachers keep students interested? Studies have shown that girls and at-risk students are highly under represented in the STEM career fields. I have one suggestion. We need to provide Relevancy and Engagement. Girls in particular are easily turned off to the sciences and math- maybe because they don't see how these careers can "make a difference"- an emotional and passionate difference- in the world. At-risk students often lack role models and support to direct them to studies in STEM. We need to provide opportunities for all students to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that tie curricular lessons to the world around us. A student recently told me that in his Chemistry class, they hadn't completed one hands on experience after 6 weeks in the class! Amazing, and sad- opportunity missed. Predictions point to the fact that there will be many career opportunities available surrounding the issues of water. In our new "H2O for Life Tool Kit" we have added curricular connections for teachers to use in classrooms. As the year progresses, we hope that you will send us the great ideas that you are using in your classrooms to teach students about water. Sharing ideas and resources will help all of us provide students with a rich and meaningful educational experience. Once your students are "hooked on water", the global giving increases the passion and the relevancy. Twenty years from now, we hope they remember that they helped students around the world have access to water!

We hope you have chosen a global school partner for your school. If you haven't, it is never too late! Through-out the school year, as you are looking for that one great project for your class- we know that H2O for Life is it! Check out the Generator School Network at, and the Semester of Service information coming soon on H2O for Life will be working closely with these two wonderful service-learning organizations. If you have never participated in a service learning activity, now is the time. Find out why many teachers through-out the United States are excited about Service-Learning. We can help you get started. Email us with questions, or please call and talk to one of our staff. We're here to help! Check out the list of available school partners. We need your help to bring WASH projects to schools. Can we count on you?