By Ann Durham, Director of Quality Initiatives
PASA staff recently attended the FUSE (Frontiers in Urban Science Education) Cross-City Institute, where cities came together to develop and strengthen STEM initiatives across communities. PASA is fortunate to participate in the Noyce Foundation funded FUSE grant through our partner Every Hour Counts where we focus on expanding standards-aligned STEM learning experiences that connect teachers and community educators within classroom and field-based learning environments. Attendees of the Cross-City Institute came from Boston, New York, Providence, Baltimore, Palm Beach County, Nashville, and Chicago. During the two-day event, we shared successes and challenges in developing effective strategies for scaling and sustaining STEM initiatives, while focusing on a shared understanding of how to connect performance standards, such as Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), to science inquiry and engineering practices.
We gained insights from a great group of presenters. PASA was proud to have Melita Morales, Program Director from DownCity Design, and Krystyna Nicoletti, West Broadway Middle School math teacher, represent Providence as they spoke about their collaboration in building embedded math modules into DownCity Design’s work. As an example of incorporating math into students’ projects at DownCity Design, Melita and Krystyna discussed how they use rulers to help students understand fractions, which allows them to scale models and appropriately measure and cut for builds while working on their DownCity Design projects. We also learned from Cary Sneider, Noyce consultant and NGSS writer, about standards-based engineering practices There were a lot of excited “a-has” when Cary discussed how so much of what we consider science is actually engineering. Finally, we were inspired by New York, Boston, Nashville, and Palm Beach County’s presentations, during which they discussed innovative STEM work happening in their cities. Throughout it all, the seven-city team built a community of practice around delivering inquiry-based science and engineering education in expanded learning settings.
PASA is grateful to Every Hour Counts and the Noyce Foundation for funding the FUSE initiative, which helps pay for the 30 hours of professional development for PASA’s summer STEM program. The Noyce Foundation is sunsetting, but has generously seeded a new venture to carry on its legacy: STEM Next.