This Month’s Learning Innovation: Message From Me
“Children today, we call them digital natives. They’re born to be able to pick up the iPad because it’s just part of their world,” according to Sue Polojac, the director of programming for PAEYC, the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children.
Even the youngest children can easily master an iPad or simple digital device. But how can that help them educationally and in learning to be better communicators?
“About five years ago, one of our funders challenged us to come up with something for young children,” says Emily Hamner, senior research associate of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. If anyone could create something to meld education and technology, it’s the CREATE Lab, a place where researchers, engineers, designers, psychologists, educators and artists work together to develop socially meaningful innovation and technologies.
“Most technology is aimed at older children,” Emily continues. And, she explains, at that time the CREATE Lab wasn’t even sure if young children should be gaining access to technology. CREATE director Illa Nourbakhsh wasn’t convinced until a personal incident changed his mind.
“Illa’s mother-in-law works with an early childhood community. She told him that the connection between what happens at school and at home isn’t really consistent.” Imagine asking your three-year-old to relate what happened at their Early Childhood Center that day… So CREATE decided to figure out a way for children to communicate with their parents.
Emily led the team that developed “Message from Me.” These are simple kiosks at childcare centers that enable young children to record their daily experiences by using cameras and iPads to take pictures, microphones to record a message and email to send them to their parents. This allows young children to practice their communication skills and build their self-confidence by talking about their day.
It was tested out at the Children’s School of CMU. Then PAEYC stepped in. They wanted to partner with the CREATE Lab to get these kiosks in centers throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. With funding from PNC and their Grow Up Great program and the Grable Foundation, PAEYC began placing the kiosks throughout Allegheny and Westmoreland County. Over 2000 youngsters are participating, in family childcare centers, Pittsburgh Public Schools, AIU3 Head Start programs, nearly 100 classrooms and centers serving low to moderate income children, ages three to five.
“It’s changing communication between the home and school,” says Sue.
Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children
Chartiers Valley High School Receives Major STEM Honor
Chartiers Valley High School has been named an FETC STEM Excellence Award finalist, one of three schools from around the country to receive this honor. These awards were created to recognize excellence and innovation in the field of STEM education at the primary, middle and high school levels.
Schools were evaluated based on the STEM education experience they provide, including the school’s use of interdisciplinary curriculum, collaboration, design and problem solving. “This award validates the hard work our teachers and students are doing in this program,” said Leslie Fields, Chartiers Valley coordinator of District Initiatives. “We’re constantly looking at evolving STEM education K-12 at Chartiers Valley.”
Five years ago, the High School transformed the Tech Ed Department into what is now the Applied Engineering and Technology Department, featuring an Engineering Academy and Certificate programs. There, students take advanced STEM education classes.
Chartiers Valley implemented a K-12 STEM education program to introduce students to STEM concepts early on. The District’s K-12 STEM/STEAM programs are made possible with support from the Benedum Foundation, Grable Foundation and Chevron.
The other two finalists for the award are high schools in North Miami, FL and Park City, UT.
Award winning-filmmaker Emmai Alaquiva is interviewed by Damani Brown, Calum Brown and Sheridan McHenry during SLB Radio’s 2014 Crossing Fences Program. Photograph courtesy SLB Radio Productions, Inc.
Paul Bradley is interviewed from left, by Isaac Hall, 16, Antonio Lancaster, 18 and Jassaun Davidson, 15, in Sto-Rox, as part of SLB Radio's 2014 Crossing Fences Program. Photograph courtesy SLB Radio Productions, Inc.
Propel Northside student enjoys the Day of Coding.
Students at Propel Hazelwood are all “agog” with learning.
Preparing for the recent Future Cities Competition at the Carnegie Science Center were these Propel Braddock Hills Elementary students.
Avonworth High School students take part in a videoconference hosted by Cornell University and established by the World Affairs Council. Norton Gusky photo.
A Social Studies class at Ellis is solving real world problems in a room specially designed for use by different disciplines, as part of the Design Process. Norton Gusky photo.
Digital Corps volunteers Hallie Foster and Louis Cappa teach these Boys and Girls Club participants to use robotics kits while WQED cameraman Frank Caloiero captures the moment on film.