As a former Hartford-area resident and current STEM nerd, I was very excited to attend the Annual Connecticut STEM Conference at The Connecticut Science Center last week together with Oletha Walker, who has taught several Level Up Village courses at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Windsor. Throughout the conference, STEM was discussed not merely as a collection of four subjects, but as a bridge to other disciplines with highly relevant, real-world applications. Here are my key takeaways from the conference:
Level Up Village (LUV) has introduced some exciting new features to its global communication platform in recent months. Two additions, in particular, are proving to be extremely popular: LUV Live Video Chat and Teacher-to-Teacher chat.
Fernanda Oliveira writes about the impact of global STEAM education on children at NicaPhoto in Nicaragua, where she spent several months as a Moving Worlds Experteer. Now she is helping implement LUV programs at schools in Latin America.
By Amanda Spurling, 3rd Grade Teacher, Fayetteville School in Talladega County, Alabama
Education has seen major shifts in the past decade. Rather than providing students all the information they need to learn, teachers now take on more of a facilitator role, guiding students to think and locate information they need for themselves. Moreover, the careers that students are being prepared to enter are changing. As educators, we are challenged to prepare students for careers in a global economy by providing engaging and authentic lessons that tap into important 21st Century skills. One way my school district is tackling this challenge is by partnering with Level Up Village (LUV).
One of the most exciting trends we’ve seen at Level Up Village in the past two years is how our courses are increasingly being offered by schools looking to combine global cross-curricular projects with foreign language. Educators are well aware that they can supercharge their students’ foreign language learning by providing meaningful, real-world opportunities to practice their communication skills. In fact, researchers have learned that second language learning is most effective when students are really excited about the task they’re working on and language is merely the tool they need to get the work done.
Learning how to communicate and collaborate with peers from diverse cultures is an essential skill for the 21st Century classroom and will help prepare students to enter the global workforce with confidence. Global competency is fundamental to our work at Level Up Village, and this school year we’re even more focused on helping teachers develop a better understanding of what it is and how to help their students become global citizens who communicate respectfully and interact productively with partner students across the world through our global STEAM courses.
“So, what is your favorite subject? Hope you had fun learning about my school day. Tell me about yours!” exclaimed Paige Travers ’25, an exuberant fourth-grade student on the Short Hills campus. She was just wrapping up one in a series of self-made videos in which she explained, with liberal use of hand gestures, her typical school day, her favorite hobby, and what holiday celebration she most enjoyed. Shortly, the video’s recipient in Kenya, would eagerly receive it and respond in kind with a video of her own.
By John Childs, Program Director, Mental Fitness 21st Century Learning
“OMG! We could help give clean water to all our brothers and sisters in Africa!” This was the ‘eureka moment’ for one of our 8-10-year-old students while seeing the results of an experiment in Level Up Village’s Global Scientist course. The students collaborated on the design of a water collection apparatus made from leaves, some plastic, a few heavy rocks with a carefully dug hole it all came together very nicely! When students can connect learning with the solution of problems the education becomes relevant and meaningful and most of all fun.
From the moment Jody Swanigan, Principal of East Cooper Montessori Charter School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, heard about Level Up Village (LUV), she was determined to bring LUV programs to her school.
“What first drew me in was the emphasis on STEM,” said Jody. But after checking out the global STEAM courses offered by Level Up Village and watching some videos on the website, she saw the connection between LUV’s “Take a Class, Give a Class” model and Montessori education.
By AB3 Smartacles, fifth-grade student at Oak Grove Elementary in Roanoke, Virginia
…During this project, we used a website called TinkerCad. It is like a digital blueprint because it maps out a grid and it gives you specific measurements. You can use or create your own design and if you get permission you can print it out on a 3-D printer. In this website, we are creating a Solar Powered flashlight. It can be quite fun, but difficult at the same time. In Tinkercad when you’re creating the flashlight you must have the correct measurements and you can personalize it by adding special features.