Around the world, kids are learning science and math from textbooks that lag a decade behind innovation. They study science as a set of facts to memorize, not as process for solving the world's biggest questions. We need to expose every kid and every classroom to cutting edge innovators at work in the world of science and technology.
Planet Lab connects classrooms to real research opportunities and learning media on important topics, such as nutrition, urban forests, and the changing climate. Planet Lab (see Bit.ly/PlanetLabInfo) is a tool designed to support great teaching in STE(A)M education (science, technology, engineering, art/architecture, and math). We link youth and classrooms to exciting challenges created by leading civic science institutions. For example, they might collect important data on urban forests and learn how statistics works in ecology research, facilitated by researchers at the Morton Arboretum (see stretch goals below).
As they explore the world of Planet Lab, youth meet compelling leaders in STE(A)M--from a Gorilla specialist in Rwanda to a transportation engineer in Chicago. They learn about career pathways as they try out meaningful, standards-aligned challenges.
Our team already has given over 1200 volunteer hours to building Planet Lab. Now, we're close to launching Planet Lab beta with schools around Chicago. We need your support to complete the front-end "user-interface." Then, we can curate resources from partners that have already signed on to use our network, including PBS:NOVA, the National Institute of Health, and many others.
Your contribution will fund Maia Mcguinness, our team member, to provide 300 hours of below-cost front-end web development (Angular JS).
Science education experts across the nation see the need for Planet Lab --they want a networked approach to reaching youth and teachers. Here's what they're saying:
"I wish there was something like Planet Lab when I was a kid! We look forward to helping you in any way possible." --John Krohn, U.S. Energy Information Administration
"We need more relevant, interdisciplinary, learning resources. Just because there are 'a lot of good science things' on the web does not mean that they are applicable to an instructional setting. You and your team are doing important work." --Robert Ridky, US Geological Survey
"A lot of major organizations are doing great work in this area [STEM education], but we don't often talk to each other. You're providing a tremendous service. --Tony Beck, National Institute of Health
"To fulfill our mission, we need to find new ways to reach diverse, urban youth. We think that Planet Lab is a cutting-edge tool that can help us to do that." --Sandra Frost, US Forest Service
$17,000 will support our team to work with the Morton Arboretum on a 7 county regional tree mapping initiative, designing a tool for classrooms to contribute data to an important ecology initiative.
$21,000 will help us to work with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. We'll digitize curriculum and media resources that will impact classrooms in 6 school districts.
$24,000 will support our effort to work with primatologist Stacey Rosenbaum (Lincoln Park Zoo, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Int.) to design a science and social-emotional learning experience for elementary students. As students study primates and other animals, they also learn about social behavior and the physiology of their own feelings.
$28,000 will help us to test and pilot an energy education library. We've already signed on energy education partners: NEED, KidWind, EIA Energy Kids, PBS:NOVA, ISU Center for Renewable Energy, and University of Chicago RDCEP. We'll expand the reach of their resources to more schools, and we'll pilot a digital tool for visualizing school energy use with Smart Meters.
Risks and challenges
Launching Planet Lab is just the beginning. We will need to work diligently with our partner organizations to bring exceptional learning content and "missions" to schools. We have already created numerous partnerships, and we have signed on regional and national institutions to try Planet Lab. Our next challenges will be getting to scale in schools and classrooms across the country, and building new features (such as gamification rewards for youth participants).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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