Keeping Students Interested in Math and Science

Ask a group of young children what they want to be when they grow up, and you will likely hear, “A doctor!” and “An astronaut!” among other enthusiastic responses.  As children approach their teenage years, however, the answers may change. This change is often due to a decline in interest and ability in math and science. Such a decline is especially true among economically disadvantaged, minority, and female students, who often underestimate their abilities in math and science—an erosion of confidence that begins well before high school.

With funding from the Educational Foundation of America, the KDK-Harman Foundation, and the RGK Foundation, SEDL is working to help students enjoy and excel at math and science. Connecting Kids to Math and Science is a 2-year pilot program designed to get upper elementary and middle school students excited about math and science and expose them to the numerous career options available in these fields. The 40 Austin-area teachers participating in the program are receiving intense professional development, follow-up support, and technology resources to hone their instructional skills.

Learning sessions, such as “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” teach math and science concepts through change—rapid change, as in natural disasters, and slow change, as in erosion, mountain building, or tectonic plate movement. “Teaching Concepts With Digital Imagery” challenges teachers to create video presentations to teach a specific math or science concept and to develop lesson plans in which their students do the same. Facilitator guides provide a detailed outline of each session.

The program is expected to benefit more than 800 students during the 2-year pilot period. Once the project ends, the instructional materials developed will be provided online for teachers to use free of charge.