project snapshots: A sampling of Blue Heron STEM Education Projects

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association
The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon
Middle School Module Development and Assessment Project
Creating Content-Rich, Pedagogically Appropriate Professional Development for
    Teachers and College Faculty
Contributing to the Field of STEM Education
Creative Outreach through Author Visits

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association Interactive, On-Line Curriculum Outreach
In 2007, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association (CCCGA) decided to update its elementary school outreach offerings to include standards-based educational experiences focused on cranberry agriculture and its heritage. Without a dedicated education or IT staff, the organization sought an engaging, attractive, low-tech resource. After listening to CCCGA staff and growers, as well as poring over the associations' photographic collections, Blue Heron was inspired not only to help students appreciate the basics of cranberries and honor growers, per se, but also to use cranberry culture as a dynamic context for concepts students encounter in science, math, social studies, and technology. We also saw the chance to engage students in multiple opportunities for writing and nonfiction reading. Yet we knew that not all teachers would be willing or able to devote time to using this resource, even though it connects to educational standards. The result: A flexible resource that allows for varying levels of engagement and multiple uses, with lessons that help develop key content and 21st century skills, described by CCCGA director Jeffrey LaFleur as a national model for our industry.

More information about this resource | Visit Exploring Cranberries website

The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon ~ School Visits with a STEM Focus
Who knew a football museum could be a place to explore STEM content? With a staff dedicated to meaningful outreach to its region's schools and a high-tech industry partner, The Hall at Patriot Place decided to increase its STEM offerings by providing school visit programs that connect football to STEM fields. Working with staff, teacher advisors, and and pilot school groups, Blue Heron developed programming that has combined science and engineering/technology themes with football and sports topics, creating lively experiences that appeal to kids, whether or not they are true-blue sports fans.

Engaging Youth through Engineering ~ Middle School Module Development and Assessment Project
We are fully involved members of the writing and development team for Engaging Youth through Engineering (EYE), an innovative and exciting curriculum development and assessment project, funded by a Discovery Research K-12 National Science Foundation grant. A project of the Mobile (Alabama) Area Education Foundation, EYE received a $3.6 million grant to develop and study the impact of incorporating engineering modules into core math and science classrooms of middle school students. This project is aimed not only at improving content learning but also at inspiring students to choose to study these subjects in high school. Designed for use with all classrooms and all middle school students in the district, the modules are currently implemented in two field test schools. Every module must tie into grade-level science and math content that is keyed to the district's pacing guides for a particular time of the year, and introduces, expands, or provides opportunities for students to apply relevant content in the context of a design challenge. In addition, ties to real-world and local industry contexts are emphasized in the modules.

More information about this resource | Visit EYE website

Creating Content-Rich, Pedagogically Appropriate Professional Development for Teachers and College Faculty

Bridgewater State University MSP : In 2008-2009, Bridgewater State University (Massachusetts) was in need of an engineering course for teachers involved in a Math Science Partnership program. Blue Heron tackled development and implementation of a content-rich course with appropriate pedagogy to introduce elementary through high school teachers to engineering and its ties to science and math. While the course showcased and adapted material from Engineering is Elementary, Blue Heron also expanded upon the content to incorporate an industrial theme. With a focus on getting work done and capturing energy from water, air, and electromagnetism, we engaged participants in engineering design and tracked the evolution of power generation for industrial purposes. Moving to manufacturing themes as outlined in the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering standards, we also calculated production efficiencies and used measurement and data visualization to answer engineering and technology questions.

Diocese of Bridgeport , CT: In the spring of 2011, the Diocese of Bridgeport engaged Blue Heron to provide an introductory level workshop on using Engineering is Elementary (EiE) materials. After a highly enthusiastic response from participants, the Diocese decided to continue its relationship with Blue Heron, asking us to develop a 4-part STEM Teacher Leader program which expanded beyond EiE and helped prepare teachers to serve as STEM leaders in their schools. Our program explored the nature of engineering design challenges, provided tools for teachers to assess and adapt readily available engineering education materials for use in an integrated STEM environment, and developed the beginnings of a collegial support network among participants who work in diverse settings.

Engineering is Elementary Endorsed PD Provider and project consultant: Blue Heron contributes to the development of Engineering is Elementary (EiE) professional development programming. In addition, in spring, 2012, we began work with EiE to expand the scope of EiE's PD programming, with a focus on strengthening the ties between engineering and science in teacher workshops.

With a past Professional Development Director for EiE as one of Blue Heron's leaders, it's not surprising that Blue Heron is an endorsed EiE professional development provider. We are referred by EiE for high-profile work, including programs for the Arizona Science Center and the Maryland Department of Education. We are honored to be entrusted with these regional opportunities, but also continue to find great reward in working on more local projects, supporting school teachers in schools and districts that are beginning or continuing their explorations and possible implementation of EiE materials.

Plainville Public Schools Social Studies/STEM Connection Course : When teachers in Plainville, MA, approached their superintendent with a request for content-rich summer PD, we collaborated with the district to create a graduate-level course that addressed core social studies content through a technology/engineering lens. Beyond the Facts through Artifacts explored the nature of technology and engineering and their impacts on the social world. The course included content-rich field trips and expert facilitation from a local archaeologist. Participants responded with creative units and lessons that seamlessly integrated engineering and technology lessons with social studies content. Blue Heron now offers the course as a graduate level program or a shorter workshop.


Contributing to the Field of STEM Education
With our clients and independently, Blue Heron contributes to the dialogue and growth of our profession by presenting at and participating in numerous events. Examples include presentations and workshops at the P-12 Summits on Engineering Design Research and Education, National Science Teachers Association conferences, the National Science Foundation's DR K-12 annual meeting, and the Massachusetts SE Region STEM Expo. Of course, we also find these events stimulating and helpful to our own continued growth as educators .


Creative Outreach through Author Visits
Blue Heron is proud of its connection to acclaimed non-fiction books for children; Blue Heron President Carolyn DeCristofano is also the author of Leonardo's ABC, Big Bang! The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck that Became Spectacular, and A Black Hole is NOT a Hole. (The latter two books are recommended by the National Science Teachers Association and have received recognition from respected authorities in children's publishing, such as the American Library Association and the International Reading Association.) Through imaginative workshops and presentations that tie to curriculum standards, we provide engaging and creative opportunities in science and ELA, in school and community settings. For more information, go to Carolyn's author website.