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University Students Become Superheroes To Teach STEM Education 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the able-to-explain-complex-theories-in-a-single-class dept.
New submitter sjdupont writes "A trio of University of South Florida (USF) engineering graduate students have decided to make a change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in an unusual and exciting way: by creating their own superhero personas and dressing in costumes as members of the Scientific League of Superheroes. Focused on elementary education, they have created a unique education program called the Superhero Training Network, a curriculum-based video series designed for the classroom which focuses on teaching STEM topics while engaging students in a fun way. Fifth grade classrooms in Hillsborough County (Florida) pilot tested the series during the 2011-2012 school year and enjoyed visits from the scientific superheroes to experience scientific demonstrations and participate in hands-on activities."
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University Students Become Superheroes To Teach STEM Education

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  • They should do a series of rap songs, too. That rap is hip these days and the kids really like it. Nothing reaches young people like adults dressing up like characters and rapping! This won't turn young people off out of sheer repulsion at being patronized at all!

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:33PM (#40390381) Homepage Journal
    ..."Never Gets Laid Man"....?

    j/k

    :)

  • by mdarksbane (587589) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:36PM (#40390427)

    When they read "engaging students in a fun way."

    You don't need gimmicks, people! You need interesting experiments that kids can connect with.

    It's hands-on science experiments. Let the kids blow stuff up, get dirty, smash something, or shock each other and they'll be interested. The gimmicks don't matter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, you need actual job prospects for these STEM graduate students
      "What do the career prospects of a STEM Ph.D. look like? The typical career path is increasingly two post-docs following a Ph.D. before entering the labor market. That is, following a bachelor's degree and another four or five years of intensive study and low-wage labor in a professor's lab, the typical STEM Ph.D. can look forward to yet another six or eight years working at an average salary of $50,000 before they can compete for a regular j

    • by Z1NG (953122)
      Why would you cringe? Your suggestion is still a way to make it fun, just a different way. I think if it actually gets students interested it is the opposite of a gimmick. Sure sometimes you can look at practical applications, but whats wrong with talking about a zombie apocalypse to get students more interested in exponential modeling for example? Or having Darth Vader teach them the Pythagorean Theorem?
      • Because every time I hear that buzzword, I expect to see a middle aged man in a bad super-hero costume trying to rap about particle physics...

    • Health-and-safety prohibits blowing stuff up in any entertaining manner, and the parents would be horrified if the kids went home dirty.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:43PM (#40390549) Homepage

    Basically, the way to get kids to remember stuff and want to learn stuff is to make it relevant to their real life. For example, to teach algebra, focus on personal finance, because most kids who are bored to death by "let's study exponential growth" are far more interested in "here's how to make more money". To teach physics or chemistry, a few controlled and safe explosions go a long way towards making kids interested.

    • by kenh (9056)

      "Exponential growth" sounds more like a sex ed topic than math...

  • Back story flaw? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UninformedCoward (1738488) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:45PM (#40390567)

    A lab accident that transformed them from normal scientists to super-powered members of The Scientific League of Superheroes.

    Super heroes: We're here to teach you about lab safety!
    Students: How did you become super heroes?!
    Super heroes: A lab accident...
    Students: ...

  • I like their nemesis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:45PM (#40390571)

    They battle the evil Dr. Entropy...

    Smart money is on the evil Dr. Entropy. :-)

  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:46PM (#40390581)
    No! It's Underemployed Man!

    "Would you like fries with that, citizen?"
  • The kids who are into comic books are most likely already interested in science.

    • by slew (2918)

      The kids who are into comic books are most likely already interested in science.

      My experience is that the converse might be (mostly) true, but this direction isn't true...

  • There was a show by this name [wikipedia.org], which I never watched. But I imagined a superhero swooping in to help struggling math students.
  • I wonder how long it'll be before we get confused stories about scientists injecting students with stem cells in experiments to give super powers popping up on various anti-science sites along with a call to arms to stop to such horrific and unnatural practices.
  • "These videos are designed for evaluation purposes. Duplication and distribution of these videos is not permitted."

    Because, you know, someone might get educated for free or something, and then where would we be?

    Still voting for http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org] ...

    -- Terry

  • I do the same kind of thing through my navy job... http://www.sciencebrothers.org/ [sciencebrothers.org] Whacky Scientists though, not super heroes. I feel its kind of cheap to present STEM in a "fiction" way. Conflict of messages maybe?
  • I had someone that did something quite similar when I was in K-12, but we didn't call him a "superhero", we called them teachers, and they taught me many principles of science, in areas like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science.

    What the hell are teachers doing in the classroom that someone coming in and essentially doing their job for them is considered "newsworthy"?

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