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Adjusting to Coronavirus

From the beginning, our approach has been to give educators and folks from the broader community the chance to come together to explore and move forward ideas about how to engage students in meaningful collaborative work that builds connections across Milwaukee’s many silos.  We also recognized that the best way to build the relationships and  trust that allows effective collaboration is for people to have the chance to meet and work together in person.

Unfortunately, this in-person, network focused approach to the spread of ideas is just what we don’t want in this time of cornoavirus. We’re making a number of adjustments to keep things moving forward while keeping our network and the students they work with safe.

Collab Labs

Collab Lab 34: Tapping industry expertise will be held as a Twitter chat at #CollabLabChat on Thursday April 9th from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

Collab Lab 35: Re/connect has been postponed to Thursday August 13th

Zoo Train Challenge

Review sessions at the UWM and Marquette’s 3D visualization labs, as well as the the session scheduled with Operating Engineers Local 420 have been cancelled.

The final design review scheduled for April 28th at MSOE has also been cancelled. We will work with the Milwaukee County Zoo and participating schools to explore alternatives for students to share their designs to rework the coal handling process for the Zoo’s steam locomotives.

Fabrication of a new water tower for the Zoo’s steam locomotives based on the designs from last year’s challenge has been postponed until fall.

MPS STEM Studio

The STEM Studio sessions with MPS teachers working to design real world projects that engage students in computational thinking are on hold until teachers return to work.

Making use of this time

We’re exploring opportunities to help keep things moving for you. Let us know what challenges you see ahead and let’s see if we can’t find some new opportunities out of the present chaos, in our one question survey here.

STEM Studio

Last spring, we conducted interviews with teachers and mentors involved with MPS’s efforts to introduce Project GUTS, SHARP Literacy’s Design Through Code (DTC) program, TEALS, and First Robotics. The goal was to understand how we might expand opportunities to develop computational thinking outside of computer science classes, by listening to what drew teachers and mentors already engaged in that type of activity to take on the task. We provided a recap of that work here.

One of the ideas that came out of that effort was to work with teams of teachers and expertise from the broader community to create and pilot real world projects that provide solid opportunities to engage students in computational thinking. We call that the STEM Studio, and are happy to report that Northwestern Mutual has provided funding to design and pilot the first projects with MPS.

Since environmental science is a spring semester focus for MPS middle schools, we used our November Collab Lab on Green Infrastructure to generate ideas for potential projects. One of those is the Southeastern Wisconsin Watershed’s Trust’s (Sweetwater) Adopt a Storm Drain Program. As we talked about what that might look like as a STEM Studio project, Sweetwater pointed us to the Smart City Reverse RFP offered by Caravela IoT. That initiative seeks to demonstrate the potential to leverage a network of sensors that detect environmental data. Winning submissions would receive both equipment and technical support to pilot a project. We partnered with MPS, Sweetwater and Reflo to put in a joint proposal which uses STEM Studio pilot projects to both deploy sensors and expose students to the technology. We were selected as one of the winners and are happy to now have Caravela IoT engaged with us in the STEM Studio effort.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be pulling our teams of teachers together with community partners to design and pilot the experiences we want students to have as they take on the STEM Studio projects. Collab Lab attendees will know that one of our criteria for projects we get involved in is the ability to scale across schools with network effects. As part of the STEM Studio pilots, we’ll work with the teams to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what the next cohort of teachers will want to have in place to take on or extend the challenge in their schools.