The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) unveiled its newly renovated Burke Baker Planetarium on March 11, and roughly 75 of HISD’s Southmayd Elementary School’s fourth-graders were the first to experience it.
Through a long-standing partnership with the museum, all 14,000 HISD fourth-graders take a field trip there each year, but the planetarium now boasts a new seamless inner surface on the dome and a high-resolution, digital-laser projection system so powerful only astronauts will have a better view of celestial objects.
Did you know you could program a computer to play a piano using fruit or PlayDoh as a conductor? That’s what teachers and students learned at a “Crack the Code” event held Jan. 9, at HISD’s Southmayd Elementary School.
Sponsored by the Innovative Curriculum STEM Teacher Development team and funded through the TIF4 STEM grant, “Crack the Code” created an opportunity for teachers to develop coding skills and explore new ways to implement coding in their own classrooms, even when they don’t have computers available. More than 200 students, teachers, and parents participated in the event, which offered a variety of coding activities — both plugged and unplugged — in an exciting day of challenge and learning.
Teachers participated in the learning right along with their students, as they worked their way through the station activities. From creating obstacle courses and navigating mazes to working with Scratch programming and physical computing, participants expanded their coding skills and understanding.
“This was a wonderful experience for my students,” said Judy Salmon, a teacher at Milne Elementary. “They didn’t want to leave and neither did I.”
Managed by the Office Innovative Curriculum and Instruction in partnership with the Department of Research and Accountability, the TIF4 STEM grant is a five-year federal grant in its third year of implementation. The grant provides program support to 23 schools: 18 elementary campuses, three middle schools, and two K-8 campuses.
See more footage of students and their project in the #HISDecoded Twitter feed.
More than five dozen HISD science, technology, engineering, and math teachers took part in a summer institute recently that was designed to help boost students’ math and science scores by incorporating more fun into their lessons.
The educators came from 23 HISD elementary and middle schools that received part of a TIF4 STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant also provides resources such as equipment and technology, and participating teachers will receive additional training opportunities throughout the school year and share what they have learned with other faculty members at their campuses.
Volunteers needed to read with first-graders for 30 to 60 minutes per week
It’s National Volunteer Week, and HISD would like to recognize and encourage the many people who volunteer their time with the district. Volunteers are an integral part of the HISD family who share the common goal of wanting to help students succeed.
“I heard about the volunteer program on TV and thought, ‘I can get out of the house and do something worthwhile,’” said Loretha Fore, a retired teacher who is now an HISD volunteer at Southmayd Elementary School. “We have so much to give, especially retired people. We’re going out to lunch and getting together with friends, but this is something we can all do to help students and give back to our communities. You are giving, but also receiving.”
Annually, nearly 31,000 community members apply to volunteer in HISD schools through Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS). With the launch of even more opportunities, including the district’s Read Houston Read volunteer program, that number is expected to grow.
More than 60 educators spent the first week in August exploring ways to implement science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities in their classrooms.
The emphasis of the STEM Summer Institute, which was hosted by Office of Innovative Curriculum and held at the Kingdom Builders Center, was on building capacity in engineering, coding, and robotics, as well as 3D printing. The goal is to implement components of the program in third- through eighth-grade classrooms throughout the district. Continue reading →
Many tech-savvy people—including Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and HISD’s own Adam Stephens—believe that in the not-too-distant future, knowing how to create computer code will be considered as basic a skill as knowing how to read, write, or perform basic math calculations.
That’s why students at several HISD campuses participated in a challenge issued by Code.org as a part of Computer Science Education Week.