By: Robert Walsh
I remember using the SRA Reading Laboratory as an elementary school student. There was a box in the back of the classroom with color-coded cards. Each card contained a reading passage and a series of reading comprehension activities. During reading time, each student would select a card according to her or his reading level (denoted by the color), read the passage, and complete the activities. After completing a sufficient number of cards at the requisite level of demonstrated performance, a student would advance to the next level. I enjoyed working through this program because it was self-paced, provided a transparent view of my progress, and allowed me to make choices related to what I would learn. What a thrill for a kid in the first or second grade!
The SRA Reading Laboratory serves as an inspiration for the lessons offered through the Excalibur Solutions STEM Academy. Our lessons are leveled according to difficulty, and some offer the same or similar content at different levels. Most are focused on showing how some piece of technology we see or use in our everyday lives works, often by allowing students to create a small scale or simpler version using low-cost components like the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino. Along the way, students will learn a bit about computer programming and electrical engineering. Additionally, links to related academic content are provided for those who want to learn more or for when these lessons are incorporated into interdisciplinary settings.
Our hope is that by peeling away the outer layers, students will recognize that technology:
- is not magic;
- is not the exclusive domain of the super smart;
- is interesting, engaging, and worth getting excited about!