Regional Math and Science Center offering specialized K-12 resources for changed learning landscape

A game created for K-12 students learning at home.
A game created for K-12 students learning at home.
Image credit - Courtesy photo

From STEM-related games to parental tips, Grand Valley's Regional Math and Science Center is creating an ever-growing set of resources for K-12 online learning.

Along with those efforts, the center is working to ensure educators have virtual access to the professional development they would have received in person, said Kris Pachla, RMSC director.

Center representatives are working to provide a variety of activities and educational opportunities to optimize the home learning experience and try to push through some of the challenges educators are expressing, Pachla said.

"We're hearing from teachers worried about students' mental and emotional health, those who don't have a consistent home life, parents working full-time jobs from home and other situations that are really not conducive to them learning," Pachla said.

Within the RSMC, the MiSTEM network is gathering resources for use by both teachers and families.

In addition, the center posts on social media each day some ideas for engaging students' minds. These include Citizen Science Days, which suggests activities such as surveying birds and their habits, as well as games developed by Grand Valley mathematics and mathematics education students and faculty members.

With districts easing mandates to teach new content during this time, educators are searching for ways to continue the learning experience when it is not tied directly to new content standards, Pachla said. In fact, he said, these efforts are tied into an increased emphasis in K-12 classrooms to learn not only discipline knowledge but also the concepts used in the disciplines.

"Even if not specifically asked to do the quadratic formula, how do you think like a mathematician and go step by step through a process that isn’t content-related?" Pachla said. "With Citizen Science, students can deeply engage in scientific learning and scientific practices without relating to content. Going outside the house to look for the different plant life they see, for instance, is useful for students."

As he looks forward to the summer, when the center is usually busy working with educators on professional development and students on educational enrichment, Pachla and his team are considering contingencies.

Ensuring students receive educational content that is normally offered at camps will likely involve multiple approaches, Pachla said. Remote learning is one option, but RMSC leaders -- who are dedicated to providing resources to underserved populations -- are also mindful of the technology and connectivity challenges that students across the state can experience.

"Kit-based solutions scale up pretty well," Pachla said. "This may also present an opportunity for us to delve into a whole new summer camp experience, either self-driven or a remote summer camp."

Grand Valley's College of Education and Charter Schools Office is offering K-12 literacy teachers free educational resources and webinars. Find out more in our previous story.


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.