George Lucas Educational Foundation

Social Media in STEM: Project Based Teams

Social Media in STEM: Project Based Teams

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How do we compete with the addictive nature of social media as educators? More importantly how do we teach proper use and not turn off students to our instruction in the process?

@Projectres and @STEMExpeditions are using social media in a team environment that creates social value to the students and helps keep them within bounds of proper social media use. They may have other social media accounts on various sites that we don't see, but they get to see first hand how educators, scientists, concerned citizens, companies, and NGO's use it in a symbiotic/collaborative manner.

It is so important that our education system adapts educational strategies to create positive learning opportunities for students to use social media in a positive academically appropriate manner and help them learn to make connections that improve their lives. In our after school program (Project Reservoir) we are using Twitter, Facebook, team websites, and Instagram to drive instruction in our STEM program. We do this by having students create team based social media accounts (for example @phragattack) and then connecting with scientists and organizations through social media that do work that is related to their team based science projects. No one scripted us to do it, but we saw the need to adopt this powerful tool and to teach students appropriate use through team accounts.

At least once a week we send student teams information related to their project and with hashtags to drive the instruction/conversation. This allows others to experience the conversation and sometimes to join in. Our Phrag Attack team recently won an international student competition and they were able to interact with the competition's founder on Twitter. They were international Class Act winners, but they are also now going into high school and have learned a new skill that will help them find jobs, make connections academically, and build an online profile that every teacher would be proud of sharing with their own family. 

Rather than avoiding social media interaction with students, which many people are doing, fearing negative publicity, you can actually teach social media in your team-based STEM project. This allows you to share your experiences, connections, and lessons learned, and also allows students to learn how to navigate the social media environment in a professional manner.  

Check out our teams from last year and follow on us twitter @projectres and @STEMExpeditions.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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