STEM education and the critical thinking and analytical skills that it brings are critical for the 21st Century. Despite its importance, some teachers, particularly in vulnerable communities have few opportunities to learn new ways to help build these skills among students. With a focus on getting to the most vulnerable communities, during 2017, PADF supported 60 teachers from the indigenous education school system in Baja California and Mexico state in acquiring new and updated teaching methodologies for use in bilingual elementary schools (Spanish or Indigenous language). Rather than focusing on what to teach, these educators were equipped with skills to present information to their students in new ways. Given that many of these indigenous education schools have multi-grade classrooms, the teachers were exposed to technology platforms like GeoGebra and Geoplano Digital that can be used with children across different grades to engage them in age-appropriate education.
With the support of the Dart Foundation, in 2016 PADF and Wiser Education trained math and science teachers in STEM education methods at monolingual elementary schools (Spanish or Indigenous language) and bilingual elementary schools in the states of Baja California and Estado de Mexico. The program included the implementation of:
Through the program, teachers were exposed to different STEM learning methods through online platforms, such as GeoGebra, Geoplano Digital, @prende 2.0 and The Gauss Proyect. Teachers This component emphasized the resolution of geometric problems using digital tools. With PADF’s support, local nonprofit Wiser Education created a virtual space in which teachers and members of the school community could upload materials and exchange experiences learned during the training sessions. Teachers were encouraged to use this platform to facilitate math instruction through the use of STEM activities and digital libraries.
As a result of this project, 60 teachers were trained in various STEM education methodologies, strengthening their capacities to address scientific problems from a multidisciplinary perspective. They learned how to formulate exercises that demand the integration of STEM disciplines to solve complex problems and developed different teaching approaches to improve the learning experience in their classrooms. Additionally, the program had a “spillover effect”, improving the leadership of teachers in the program at their schools. They shared STEM Education knowledge with their colleagues, thereby expanding the reach of the program and benefitting the entire school community.