Frequently Asked Questions
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What is STEMhero?
AN ALIGNED CURRICULUM SUPPLEMENT, WEB-BASED LEARNING PLATFORM, AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
In simple terms, STEMhero is a website and supplemental curriculum that empowers students to collect and analyze their electricity, natural gas, and water consumption. Through the program, students create a baseline of their home and/or school's consumption; then, they decide on and measure the impact of efficiency behaviors and technologies. The students' knowledge of their local water & energy system, and findings of which efficiency practices worked best, are shared with family and the community.
How Can All Students Participate if some Don’t Have Access To A Water Meter Because Their Home Has A Well, They Live In An Apartment Or They Are Without Stable Housing?
Compatibility with all utility meter types (water, gas, electric) means that in nearly all cases, students have direct access to at least one type of meter.
Students may also track an alternative (non-home) meter such as a meter at their school or at a partnering local business.
STEMhero has even built a virtual water meter that looks and behaves just as a normal home water meter might over the course of a three week period, allowing a student without access to any meters the ability to fully participate
In what grades and units does STEMhero fit?
Hands-on inquiry and analysis as well as interpretation of graphs and charts belongs in all grades. That said, teachers tell us that the sweet spot for STEMhero is:
In the upper-middle school/lower high school grades, particularly in environmental and physical science classes where there is strong alignment with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS);
At the start of the school year or new term. STEMhero hits on key themes teachers want to emphasize at the start of the year including: experimental design, careful data collection and analysis, real-world application of classroom learning, connection to family, etc.
Moreover, the start of the school year (late summer) is when community water and energy systems are under stress due to peak demand, so student actions can actually make a major difference.
Where human’s connection to natural resources is studied: Groundwater, seasons, geography and economic development, environmental social justice.
as a cross-curricular tool to bridge science and civic responsibility, ethics towards common resources **(private / religious school setting might also wish to include reflection on how their faith calls people to value creation and critically analyze their responsibility for the stewardship of the natural world).
In classes where there is the opportunity for a capstone project at the end of the year;
Where there is a desire for cross-curricular applications, especially to algebra (averages, linear functions, lines of best fit), non-fiction literacy (evidence-based argumentation), and civics (local government, policy, legal rights).
Do Students Have To Have Access To A Smartphone Or The Internet At Home In Order To Participate?
The STEMhero program is optimized to be used on tablets, smartphones and across all internet browsers. However, students without smartphone or internet access can always record readings by hand and then enter them online later from a school or library computer. In fact, we’ve built a meter reading plan and log just for that.
Is STEMhero bi-lingual?
Yes, we've started with Spanish.
This is critical, since we know that STEMhero engages students at school and at home with their families. Someday soon we hope to add other languages.
Is Student Privacy Protected?
A special thank you to the legal teams at the University of Wisconsin Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic for assisting in the research and creation of our systems to protect student privacy.
How Often Should Students Take Readings And How Many Should They Take?
As frequently or infrequently as you would like -- from 2 readings to 200. STEMhero is flexible to be implemented as an enhancement to your teaching for whatever length of time works best for your schedule. Taking a meter reading is easy to learn, requires seconds, and usually takes place outside of the school day. The frequency and duration of meter readings students take largely depends on the questions (variables) and investigations you would like your students to engage with:
Hourly: See what activities during the day consume the most; pilot and immediately evaluate the effect of behavior and technological changes; easily see if you are on pace to use less than your historical usage, and average usage among others. Example
Daily: Spot variation in use based on the day of the week: example - weekdays vs. weekends. Example
Weekly / monthly: Spot long term trends, compare against temperature, precipitation or other seasonal data. By entering data from old utility bills, students can even see year-over-year comparisons. Example
- Hybrid: Introduce and master taking readings at the start of the year, collect readings on a weekly or monthly basis over the fall and winter, then take frequent readings at the end of the year, comparing against the collected historical data and conducting short-term capstone experiments.
How Can I Track And Ensure Student Engagement And Success?
Because of STEMhero's innovative single-sign on system, teachers can monitor all student participation from the classes dashboard (check out our demo account at the top of the page to learn more).
When students complete a Mission, teachers receive a daily summary email showing which students completed the Mission, as well as access to a compilation of the student responses -- ready for teachers to use in class, or as assessments!
STEMhero has even created a custom Remind account, so that students can safely and anonymously receive text reminders to take their readings.
How much does STEMhero cost?
Check out our Sponsorship page for more information.
Is There Published Evidence Of STEMhero’s Effect On Student Achievement?
There's no question that students are more motivated and focused when learning connects directly with their life outside of school, when it is project based, and when they are empowered to act on the knowledge gained. Researchers from Marquette University completed a formal randomized academic study in partnership with 6-8th grade science teachers throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It worked! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of the report.
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