November 1, 2020
By Ian Harmon | Prince George’s Suite Magazine read it >
With so many students being taught through virtual and distance learning at home, the push to keep them engaged in the subjects that will prepare them for the future, especially in science-related topics, is more important than ever.
Learning Undefeated, a non-profit organization that provides STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning materials to under-resourced areas, has teamed with Prince George’s County Public Schools to deliver 3,000 At-Home Science kits to Charles H. Flowers High School. Beginning October 28th, the students were able to pick up kits containing materials to complete four independent laboratory investigations that correlate directly to what they are learning in their virtual classrooms. It’s an inventive way to keep STEM as an involving and evolving area of interest for students during this unique and challenging time.
“What a game changer! This addition will enhance our distance learning and provide the students with experiences that they cannot get from a computer,” said Felicia J. Martin Latief, Ed.D., STEM instructional supervisor for PGCPS. Those experiences include investigating unknown food substances to identify the presence of starch or liquids, and anaerobic respiration activities to understand how sugar concentration affects carbon dioxide production. The kits even have an At-Home Science mobile phone app where instructional videos of each activity are available.
Headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD – with field offices in New Orleans, LA, and Houston, TX – Learning Undefeated has stepped up to help students through distance learning with programs in chemistry, earth science, and biology. Using state-of-the-art technology, Learning Undefeated has created a small fleet of mobile laboratories in custom-built 45’ and 53’ trailers that help them to reach over 25,000 students every school year. At Charles H. Flowers High School their Drop Lab, a smaller version of their trailer labs, was deployed to deliver the new kits so parents and students could easily and safely drive through the parking lot to receive them.
The hands-on aspect is impactful, both for inspiring and engaging the students, as well as being helpful for the teachers.
Erin Lukomska-Schlauch, a biology teacher and department chair for the science department said, “We are super excited to have these kits. They are perfect, nice little convenient packages with a handful of lab kits that are very closely related to our curriculum – that means our teachers don’t have to add more to what they’re already responsible for.”
“The At-Home Science kits are prepared for the students and they can conduct multiple trials at home; this helps students to continue their STEM education,” said Charles H. Flowers Science and Technology Internship Program Coordinator Karen Shelton, who helps to place seniors into research experiences. “To have the students conduct science research despite the coronavirus limitations, it really sets them along the path of being not just college and career ready, but college and career STEM ready.”
Learning Undefeated and Karen Shelton have been working toward fostering more opportunities for students to put that STEM interest into practical use, including eventually having them aboard the MdBioLab, a 45’ tractor-trailer with a laboratory inside full of professional-gauge lab equipment. Learning Undefeated mobile labs have aided nearly 200,000 K-12 students. Nearly 85,000 PGCPS students have been able to study inside one of the mobile labs.
If this program with PGCPS goes as well as expected, future plans include providing At-Home Science kits to a wider audience later this year.