Being community partners in President Obama's Educate-to-Innovate initiative put the DML Competition and its 2010 winners at the center of 21st century STEM learning. What's so important about this new federal strategy is not just beefing up the nation's STEM learning, but doing it in a way that inspires students. It's hard to imagine that American students will improve scores in math and science literacy if they dislike school or find it boring.
It's also hard to imagine students taking to STEM learning if the stereotypes range from this to this. Increasing diversity in STEM careers is critical, not just for the opportunities it offers women and other underrepresented groups, but because of the opportunities they can offer us, their equally diverse audience.
That's what makes the DML Competition winners a triple threat: their projects tap new talent at a young age using hands-on digital media to teach STEM learning. All 19 of the 2010 DML Competition winners showcasing their work in March focus on STEM learning, whether it's Fab@School putting digital fabricators in the hands of our youngest students, or Stem Cell Sackboy teaching the latest research through LittleBigPlanet. Some of the projects, like Click! The Online Spy School, focus on girls, while others -- like Youth AppLab, inspire African-American talent through role-modeling and 60 awesome seconds of eye contact. Across the country in East LA, Out the Window is breaking new STEM ground with Latino Students from the Renaissance Academy at Torres High School.
Hands-on activities outside the classroom are what students want. They want to tinker and make things that meaningful and relevant. Between the National Lab Network's fantastic new recommender system (matching STEM professionals with learners interested in STEM projects), and the type of learning made possible by the DML Competition winners, we can give students a truly 21st century approach to learning.
Countdown to the 2010 DML Competition Showcase features Where Are They Now? updates on the 2008, 2009, and 2010 winners. The 2010 DML Competition winners will showcase their projects at the Designing Learning Futures DML Conference on March 4, 2011 in Long Beach, California.
Visit our DML Countdown page to view more updates from featured projects.