The STEM Squad is designed to help combat the so-called "summer slide," in which students are reported to lose about two months of their grade-level math computational skills over the summer. By keeping students' STEM skills sharp, says the company, the effort can help reduce the time - as much as three weeks - that teachers currently spend reviewing previously taught material when students return to school in the fall.
The STEM Squad will visit more than 50 school campuses across the country, offering project-based learning activities that make important STEM concepts relevant in real-world, meaningful ways, says the company. TI will also host live, virtual field trips throughout the summer to give even more students an opportunity to engage with STEM.
To keep kids engaged, the company says it has put together a selection of fun and simple activities that introduce students from middle school through high school to STEM, coding, and the basics of engineering design. For example, students can learn how to program an alarm that alerts an owner if they forget their pet in a hot car. Kids can also experiment with robotics as they learn to program a calculator-controlled robotic car to navigate a volcano on Mars.
"Learning doesn't have to end when the last school bell rings," says Peter Balyta, president of TI Education Technology. "Summer is an ideal time for students to experiment with math, science and even basic engineering, without the added pressure of grades or tests. TI's summer STEM activities were designed with fun in mind, knowing that during the summer break, we need to work even harder to keep students engaged with STEM."
The company's STEM tour kicked off last week at C.E. Williams Middle School for Creative and Scientific Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. It is scheduled to last through September.