Monday, December 17, 2012

Active Explorer Moves STEM Learning to the Field

Active Explorer, a new mobile platform that aims to spark student's interests in the science, is taking STEM education to a whole new level. Now, smartphone in hand, students can leave the classroom and make science discoveries in the field. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) partnered with Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative and mobile virtual network operator Kajeet to create the program.

This new program is what every science teacher has been hoping for. If you want your students engaged in what they're learning, there's no better way to do it than through self discovery. With Active Explorer, educators are able to log in to their computer a create a "quest" that asks their student to collect certain data with the program on their smartphones. Students can take pictures, record audio and video, create a map, make sketches or even write notes based on their observations. After they're finished collecting all their data, a mere push of a button will upload their data to their teacher and their own web account, enabling them to create slideshows, posters and e-books to share with classmates.

Active Explorer was piloted with eight teachers and 120 students across grades 4 and 7 in four Washington D.C. schools this October. District Administration reports that the program's easy-to-use design doesn't require teacher training and that it's intended for after-school use, when students are most likely to make real-world connections beyond the classroom. That's not to say that Active Explorer can't be used in the classroom, though! Active Explorer can also be integrated into classroom activities.

The program, was created to increase student interest in STEM and to keep the U.S. competitive in global education. Active Explorer also resembles what those in STEM careers are doing more and more frequently these days: using mobile platforms to collect their data.

Active Explorer runs on Android phones, which must be provided by the school district, but is free to download. You can learn more about the program at its website,