Financial Literacy Month is recognized annually in Canada in November, and National Financial Literacy Month was recognized in the United States in April 2004, in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach citizens how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.
When kids read that America’s $28 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.
If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are fifteen I like. See if one suits you (check here for updates on links):
- Banzai–financial literacy (free) online program
- Bartleby Economics Q&A
- BizKids–games to teach business and finance
- Budget Challenge–for HS and college
- Cash Crunch–games for youngers and olders (HS and college)
- Financial Football–as fun as it sounds
- Financial Literacy Quizzes–in a variety of financial topics for high schoolers
- Gen I Revolution
- H&R Block Budget Challenge game
- Life on Minimum Wage (a game–through TpT but free)
- Living Wage–what’s it cost to survive–by state, cities, counties
- Own vs Rent Calculator–plug in the numbers; see the results
- Personal Finance for MS
- Personal Finance Lab–stock market game
- Practical Money Skills
Hour of Code–December 7th-12, 2020–is a time when teachers show students why they should love-not-fear coding and students find out that these activities — often seen as geeky or impossible — aren’t. They’re actually fun.
Over the next week, I’ll share ideas that will get you ready for your Hour of Code. This includes (links won’t work until the articles are posted):
- Hour of Code? Here’s why you should participate
- Long list of websites by grade
- 10 Unusual Projects
- 6 Unplugged Activities for Hour of Code
These suggestions go back to the roots of coding. The idea started as a clever way to teach students to think critically and problem-solve. The easiest way was to gamify coding, put students on a digital device they loved, and set them free. One hour, according to Hour of Code, would show them that deep thinking was fun and problem-solving was exhilarating.
I happen to agree. Some of my most gratifying moments are when I accomplish the impossible, unravel a Mobius Strip-like problem, or force myself to do what I’ve never before done. Hour of Code does that every year for oh many students. But here’s my issue: Too often, kids forget that the goal is to practice critical thinking and problem solving, not pursue a career in programming.
Let’s reinforce that goal by stepping away from digital device, recognize that these skills — critical thinking and problem-solving — apply to any part of life, even without a computer, iPad, or smartphone in hand. All kids need is their brain which happily, every child carries with them.
Here are some of my favorite unplugged activities:
I admit, when I first received this kit, I didn’t get the name–Crazy Circuits with Squishy Circuits. I couldn’t get my brain around all those words until I unwrapped the box and pulled the parts out. Then I got it: This had a ton of promise. If you’ve ever made Play Dough at home or in science class and used it as conductors and insulators–that’s the squishy part. When you poke circuits that light up or run motors or a bunch of other stuff into the dough–that’s the crazy part. With this relatively inexpensive kit, a wide age range of students learn about seemingly complicated topics such as insulators, conductors, resistance, and parallel and series circuits.
This is ready to go out of the box which means no soldering required.
How to Use it
The Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits kit includes six containers of colored squishy dough–some conductive and some insulating–and a variety of Crazy Circuits Chips. You don’t have to make anything or buy anything else. Detailed directions, project guides, educational resources, and videos can be found online in the Ward’s Science database. Crazy Circuits are compatible with LEGO™ and similar brick building systems.
If you’re wondering how squishy dough can conduct electricity, watch this 4-minute TED Talk. Though the video shows how to make the dough, you don’t have to do that. Ward’s Science sends it as part of the kit. You just attach the circuits, motors, and conductors, and let your creativity flow:
Here are some great ideas for celebrating:
National STEM Day is November 8 and the unofficial holiday celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States. The day focuses on helping students advance in STEM fields, a priority of NASA as we continue to push the boundaries of exploration and soar into the future. In celebration of National STEM Day, we challenge you to engage and inspire the Artemis generation as we go forward to the Moon by 2024 and continue to innovate in the areas of Earth science and aeronautics. To help you join in on the festivities, here are 10 ways you can celebrate National STEM Day with us.
On November 8th 2019, we will celebrate National STEM Day to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Together the STEM subjects represent some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the United States.
While STEM topics seem a natural fit in high schools and post-secondary curriculum, education experts are promoting a focus on STEM subjects for younger and younger children. You might be asking, what will a four or five-year-old student be able to understand about these subjects?
Stem Education in 2020
About two decades ago, the sciences were not so popular among younger generations. People keen on mathematics, physics, or IT were awe-inspiring and seemed to have supernatural abilities. But, the importance of sciences and technologies has grown; that’s why professionals in certain fields have become headhunters’ “targets.” The world’s workforce lacked a lot of science specialists, that is why STEM education became more popular.
So, what is STEM education? STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These subjects are being taught cross-disciplinary and in a complex which refers to real situations. This approach fosters the motivation of students which tend to make use of essay help service and tutors to have work done. You might think that there can be nothing new about STEM education in K-12 and higher education. Still, there are several facts you may want to know about.
The Role of Technology
The essential component in 2020 is a T-part of STEM – Technology. It is not only an object of education but a necessary and irreplaceable means of teaching STEM as well. For several years now, we observe a rapid growth of online and remote teaching, learning, and even practicing. Education in various disciplines has undergone significant change with the introduction of VR and AR into the classrooms. Now it is possible to create virtual reality and virtual laboratories for students to practice in. And this is only a small part of the technologies’ influence on modern life and education.
Grants and New Opportunities
Currently, numerous STEM courses and grants are launching in many universities and organizations. Moreover, famous corporations and brands are funding them, making it possible for students with limited financial possibilities to get quality education free of charge. Such examples are Ford Motor, Toyota Foundation, and Toshiba. They offer grants not only to students of higher education institutions but at a school level too. The NEA Foundation also promotes grants and projects to underserved communities that do not have access to a quality education process and resources.
When kids read that America’s $23 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.
If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are fifteen I like. See if one suits you:
Age group: Middle school
Through this interactive video game, students learn to identify advertising and understand its messages with the goal of becoming informed, discerning consumers. To win the game, they will have to answer questions like, “Who is responsible for the ad?”, “What is the ad actually saying?”, and “What does the ad want me to do?” For educators and parents, Admongo includes tools like videos, lesson plans, printed materials, downloads, and alignment with state standards.
Admongo is put out by the Federal Trade Commission who also offers another well-received game, “Spam Scam Slam” about spam.
Age group: middle and high school
Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-
your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they pretend that they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their limited income and then must face the consequences of those actions, basing decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students juggle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. At the end, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.
The program is free, takes about eight hours (depending upon the student), and can include printed materials as well as digital.
Next week, February 17-23, 2019, is DiscoverE’s Engineers Week. Their tagline:
“A week-long event, a year-long commitment”
Do you wonder why anyone would be passionate about engineering? Forbes published three good reasons:
- The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median.
- Job growth from 2010 to 2014 was in the double digits in several engineering occupations.
- Since 2007, the number of engineering grads nationwide has shot up 33%.
What is Engineers Week?
For those not familiar with DiscoverE, sponsors of Engineers Week, they are a volunteer-driven online coalition of over one-hundred organizations committed to promoting engineering to the K-16 community. This includes the provision of resources, programs, in-person presentations, classroom assistance, training, activities, videos, books, technology programs, and more. The purpose of Engineers Week is as much to celebrate engineers as to increase public dialogue, in that way bringing them to life for kids, educators, and parents. With the national call for STEM resources and the popularity of programs such as Hour of Code, the talented professionals of DiscoverE are more in-demand than ever.
“93% of DiscoverE educators think an engineer’s presence helps STEM students.”
STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These four topics cover every aspect of our life. Science is our natural world, from the land we live on to the oceans and space we aspire to visit. It’s the weather that changes our picnic plans to the natural disaster that destroyed a town in our own state. Technology includes the iPads toddlers play on, the smartphones we use to guide our days, the apps that turn our lights on and off–or start our car. Engineering is why traffic flows smoothly on crowded roads and why bridges survive despite massive loads of trucks, and is the foundation for much research into global warming and alternative energy. Mathematics happens everywhere–at the grocery store, the bank, the family budget, the affirmative nod from parents to update a child’s computer to their agreement to add apps from the app store.
Every corner of every life includes STEM, which explains the increasing interest in STEM-educated students to fill the nation’s jobs. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. According to the Bureau of Labor and Management:
… jobs in computing and mathematics are projected to grow by 20 percent.
Significantly, STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. The reason: Students trained in STEM subjects think critically, develop creative solutions, solve problems rather than look to others for solutions, and create logical processes that can be duplicated in all parts of their life. STEM-trained students understand how to look at the forest and find the particular tree.
C-STEM Studio is a California A-G approved curriculum and turn-key solution for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics through computing and robotics. This web-based scalable program is available for elementary through high school students and can last anywhere from four weeks to a year. As Professor Harry Cheng, Director of the UC Davis Center for Computing and STEM Education who offers this program, states simply: “Our goal is to get kids interested in math and robotics through hands-on computing and robotics.” In fact, the C-STEM Studio algebra curriculum is fully aligned with Common Core state standards in mathematics.
- Linkbot–students write a simple program to complete a function that is then uploaded to a robot–in this case, a Linkbot. One feature I found in this program which I rarely saw in others: It’ll point out syntax errors in programming. This is well-suited to younger students.
- RoboSim–students program a virtual robot of their choice (by picking from among Lego Mindstorm and others) in a virtual environment.
- RoboBlockly–a web-based robot simulation using a drag-and-drop interface to program virtual Linkbot and Lego robots. The RoboBlockly curriculum includes a student self-guided Hour of Code activity as well as teacher-led math activities that meet Common Core state standards for fourth to ninth grade.
- ChArduino–students use Ch programming (kind of a simplified, easier-to-learn C+) and an Arduino board.
To assist teachers, UC Davis offers professional development that lasts between two days and a week on how to roll out the lessons and/or curriculum in their classrooms as well as a C-STEM Conference to share ideas and stories with other educators. For students, there are CSTEM camps and competitions to showcase the robot wizardry of programmers from elementary through high school.
To evaluate C-STEM Studio, let’s look at three questions:
- so what
- who cares
- why bother
One of the most pressing and timely issues facing the education community nationally is how we can address teaching math, science, and engineering concepts to the K-12 population. C-STEM Studio does that with a compelling and thorough software program which trains both students and teachers to use robotics as a superior vehicle for learning math.
Students complete three projects in two weeks to aid understanding of architecture, design, and three-dimensional thinking. They’ll experiment with spatially laying out a three-dimensional structure on a two-dimensional paper. When completed, they’ll discuss with neighbors while practicing good listening skills learned in class.
Start with a discussion of design. This includes size, shape, texture, proportion, scale, mass and color. We will apply these to rooms, buildings, and neighborhoods. Encourage students to think and analyze critically as they engage in learning.
In figures below, ask students which are two- or three-dimensions? How do they know?[gallery ids="50170,50171,50172,50173,50164"]
Design the Classroom
Visit Classroom Architect and demo how to design the classroom with drag-and-drop pieces (see figures below). Take suggestions from class on layout. Students must think about where tables and storage are relative to other items. This is an active learning lesson that encourages visual thinking. Develop a sample based on class input and show how to make corrections if necessary.
Here’s a free lesson plan from the newest Ask a Tech Teacher book, How to Achieve Common Core with Tech–the Math Strand. This covers K-8, 114 Standards, and has 20 projects.
BTW, the lines at the front of each step are to check off the skill–track progress in case you don’t complete it in one class period. Feel free to print out for your classroom use:
How can I use practical and theoretical knowledge to solve a problem?
Students virtually construct a viable, affordable bridge and submit it (if age limits met) to a national competition. They use theoretical knowledge in a practical application. When done, they reflect on importance of both theoretical and practical in problem solving.
This lesson contributes to the rigor of your school’s math program, defined by Common Core: … Use of technology differentiates for student learning styles by providing an alternative method of achieving conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and applying to authentic circumstances.
By the end of this unit, middle school students will review all eight Standards for Mathematical Procedures, 3 W and 3 RST standards, as well as embrace an authentic experience in problem solving and the practical applications of math knowledge.