Authentic learning experiences allow students to gain important life skills at an early age, while equipping them for future education and employment opportunities. STEM BEST Program partner, Rachael Strong of North Fayette Valley, worked with Keystone Area Education Agency to develop a video about how to implement authentic learning for students through the STEM BEST Program.
“If a teacher was wondering how to implement authentic learning within a core class, regardless of the age of the student, I think a good thing to do is to start small. Start with one project that maybe even you as a teacher are passionate about but you know that it aligns with your curriculum standards,” said Strong. She then recommends engaging community partners and colleagues.
Strong also noticed a shift in learning environment from being instructor-led to being more student-led. Last fall, students identified projects they were interested in through the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning. Students could then reach out to the community partner on the Clearinghouse or adapt those projects to their local community.
Another project they have been working on has been establishing an off-campus professional workspace for students that flips the script on the traditional classroom. “We wanted a space that was welcoming to both community partners and to students. When you come here, it's going to be collaborative work and it's going to be impactful work outside of the classroom,” said Strong.
The STEM BEST Program application is open through May 10, 2021. For more information about launching a STEM BEST Program in your community, visit us online at IowaSTEM.org/STEMBEST or contact Tanya Hunt at Hunt@IowaSTEM.org.