Smartphones Shift STEM Learning to the Field

District Administration, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Smartphones Shift STEM Learning to the Field


STEM education is moving out of classrooms and onto smartphones, with a new mobile platform called Active Explorer that aims to inspire student interest in the sciences. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) partnered with Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative and mobile virtual network operator Kajeet to create the program.

With Active Explorer, educators log in on their computer and create a "quest," asking students to collect data with the program on their smartphones. For example, a student may be told to find and document different types of flowers on school grounds or in their neighborhood. They can take pictures, record audio and video, create a map, make sketches, or write notes based on their observations. With the push of a button, they can upload data to the teacher and their own web account, and create slideshows, posters, and e-books to share with the class.

"Even though there are lots of great tools that let teachers use mobile platforms, there are none that I know of that allow teachers to decide on the content and actually build the app themselves, and decide what's going to be in the exploration that the kids go on," says Bob Hirshon, program director for Technology and Learning at AAAS.

The program was piloted with eight teachers and 120 students in grades 4 and 7 at four Washington D. …

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