The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released to help teachers identify how to fill a leaky STEM talent pipeline where too few students were prepared to enter STEM majors and careers. The LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science administers Arizona State University’s Science is Fun (SiF) program seeks to support effective STEM education outlined in NGSS by helping K-12 students discover, explore, and learn science through interactive classroom presentations based on real research conducted by ASU scientists. SiF provides teachers and students the opportunity to explore exciting aspects of science through traveling hands-on, interactive STEM demonstrations and explorations lead by SiF staff and ASU student interns. Our team delivers STEM modules, lessons, and workshops to multi-grade audiences at K-12 schools across the Phoenix Metro area, as well as to large community events. Each SiF demonstration module integrates basic principles used in current ASU research projects across a range of scientific disciplines, including materials science and engineering, solid state chemistry, biophysics, physics and more. In addition, SiF arranges for K-12 student field trips to Arizona State University to tour facilities and equipment for materials characterization; surface, optical and structural analysis; and high resolution electron microscopy. SiF aims to support student college and career readiness by enhancing connections between K- 12 schools and ASU STEM research scientists.
National Science Teachers Association is one of many education agencies that promote the integration of hands-on activities to support student learning in STEM. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) views science learning as a process of inquiry and explanation that helps students think past the subject matter and form a deeper understanding of how science applies broadly to everyday life. In addition, hands-on projects make it easier to address all of the learning styles and multiple intelligences of students. Therefore, SiF uses a standard set of eighteen demonstrations as an interdisciplinary approach to increase knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of STEM. Our demonstrations encourage creativity and increase student motivation to learn by highlighting the WOW factor of science applications that are vibrant, explosive, dramatic but none the less based on pure scientific phenomena essential for science literacy.