Since opening our doors last June, we at The DoSeum have welcomed over 400,000 visitors to our space. Children ages birth to ten and their families have kept staff busy and taken the opportunity to engage in joyful learning and discovery in our six indoor exhibit galleries and two outdoor yards. Despite how delightfully full our space has been, The DoSeum is decidedly not just a nice place to visit or hold a birthday party. It is also a truly essential education resource for area children, families, and educators.
As we have opened to huge crowds, we have also launched exceptional programs for our core audiences that aim to provide all of San Antonio, particularly the underserved, with opportunities to ignite and their passion and strengthen their skills in STEM, the arts, and early literacy. Our education team, staffed with exceptional career museum and formal educators, is doing work to engage in-depth with both visitors and program participants.
It’s with this charge – to be an essential education resource, to promote educational equity in all we do, and to engage in deep learning with visitors and program participants – that we are pleased to introduce a new educator professional development offering this weekend: STEMTastic 2.0.
Too often, teachers participate in professional development that is of a “sit and get” model. Teachers show up, passively take in a slideshow or presentation, and leave with some key messages that fall short of helping them strengthen, let alone transform, their practice. Our work with educators at The DoSeum showcases how we are a convener, resource, and laboratory for educators.
Our work with educators (and children, and their caregivers) focuses on depth and meaning. This semester, we launched our first-ever DoSeum STEM Teacher Cohort. Close to 100 local elementary teachers applied, and we selected 25 teachers representing nine local school districts to participate in what will be a year-long engagement. Participants are attending trainings to learn a nationally-renowned curriculum, Engineering is Elementary (EiE), and will have a lab space to teach the curriculum during our summer camps starting in June. Summer camps launch for registration Tuesday, March 1. After our cohort teachers lead camp, we will work to coach each teacher as he or she implements the curriculum with their students in the fall of 2016.
In another educator initiative, we are working with the help of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) to train ten teachers each from Harlandale, Judson, and Southwest Independent School Districts on the EiE curriculum this semester. This project is a partnership with Education Resource Center Region 20 and SASTEMIC and will finish up this semester.
STEMTastic 2.0 aims to provide a deep engagement without a long-term commitment or selection process of our other educator offerings. All elementary and early childhood educators are open to attend this STEM-based professional development initiative.
During the two-part series, teachers will receive supplies from Lakeshore Learning and Vernier Software & Technology along with curriculum tools that will enable them to implement new investigations into their science and math work with students. Between sessions, teachers will engage in those investigations with their students. Upon their return to part two of the series, they will reflect on the experience they had with their students and consider how they might adjust and strengthen their STEM instruction moving forward. Of course, during both engagements educators will be able to explore The DoSeum and enjoy free food and beverage.
Registration for STEMTastic 2.0 is live online, and due to a generous sponsorship from Boeing, registration costs only $15 for both days. We hope to see local educators public, charter, private, parochial, homeschool, and more join us this Saturday, March 5 and March 26 from 9 a.m. until noon. A second offering of this series is available on April 23 and May 14 and also live for registration.
Central to our existence is a belief that children and all people learn best through practice – through doing. Our educator professional development models that mindset, and we are happy to serve educators through STEMTastic 2.0 and through ongoing programs that are responsive to their needs and realities.
Top Image: Teachers hard at work at the DoSeum. Photo courtesy of The DoSeum.