Seeing STEM Learning in Action

“When you’re riding a bicycle, what keeps you from falling off?”

That’s the question I was asked last week as I was standing outside a Rhode Island College classroom with two bicycle wheels (one large, one small) at my feet. I was participating in an activity led by “Everyday Explorers”—AmeriCorps members who teach STEM in after-school programs in Boston, New York, and Providence—as part of a two-day forum CBASS hosted on informal science education.

Florida Afterschool Network COO Joe Davis and the author test out principles of angular momentum.

Florida Afterschool Network COO Joe Davis and the author test out principles of angular momentum.

In case you’re wondering, the answer (mostly) is angular momentum. The Everyday Explorers demonstrated this principle as part of a broader lesson on Newton’s three laws. Activities included trying to change the direction of a spinning bicycle wheel and being spun around in a chair while holding bricks in outstretched arms—not exactly your typical science “lesson.”

This type of exercise was at the heart of the forum, held at the Rhode Island College STEM Center and Providence After School Alliance. The meeting was part of a national CBASS initiative, supported by the Noyce Foundation, to increase after-school staff members’ interest and confidence in teaching STEM and to engage city leaders in supporting STEM education after school. (Check out our FUSE resource guide for more information.)

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