Virtual science fairs for the future
In the future, expect science fairs and STEM-related exploration nights to continue to move toward project-based problem-solving that incorporates various disciplines. As technology evolves and global communication grows, educators may begin to incorporate virtual exchange into their programs.
In his Illinois classroom, Paul Solarz already engages students by hosting Skype chats with classrooms across the world. As a next step, he would like to require science fair students to post videos on their own blogs, or partner with students in another country to do the same experiments and then compare results.
“Virtual exchange is important for young people because it builds their global competence and technology literacy,” says Rebecca Bell Meszaros, associate vice president for education practice at IREX, a global development and education organization.
IREX supports project-based learning, virtual exchange and solution-based approaches to problem-solving as ways to expand access to innovation and increase student interest in STEM fields. In particular, virtual exchange can help students to break stereotypes they might have about other countries and to improve their global fluency. Since communicating across cultures to create a product can be challenging, virtual science fairs could boost students’ flexibility, openness and patience.
“In the working world, people across industries need these skills to create high-quality products and services while building respectful workplaces,” Bell Meszaros says.
Read the main story: Schools re-energize next-generation science fairs
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