K-12 Science Education Beamed into the Home: BrainSTEMTV.org Delivers Affordable Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Courses, Labs and Fun Activities
Developed and led by scientists and educators, virtual network offers scheduling flexibility and repeatable activities, courses to enhance learning
BrainSTEMTV.org is beaming a wide variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes and fun activities directly into the home to spark innovation and creativity in K-12 students. The virtual education network offers scheduling flexibility, repeatable activities and courses and lesson pacing based on a student’s level of development to help parents beat education challenges created by remote education.
“With the pandemic forcing many schoolhouses to remain shuttered, BrainSTEMTV.org was created to help meet STEM education needs in a new way, creating virtual classrooms and labs through web-based education delivered via a computer or television monitor,” said Jim Merrill, founder and president of the Encinitas Charities Consulting Group (ECCG), which has led funding and funding development activities for the program. “BrainSTEMTV.org is delivering a broad menu of academic content and fun activities at an affordable price right to the student’s home, which can be downloaded and enjoyed again and again at a time that is convenient for the family. BrainSTEMTV.org is assisting parents fulfill one of their most important and cherished roles, the education of their children.”
J. Ryan Merrill, Education Director, explained the BrainSTEMTV.org commitment to each student and her or his individual needs: “Each student advances through the courses and labs at their own pace. Our scientist-instructors guide each student based on their individual performance rather than the pre-arranged, based on a school year way that drives public education. We also have regular and advance tracks available.”
The BrainSTEMTV.org curriculum follows the research-based K-12 science standards developed by states to improve science education for all students. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do while giving educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that stimulate students’ interests in science and prepares them for future learning and success in their chosen profession.
Flexibility and Affordability is the BrainSTEMTV.org Key to Success
Scheduling flexibility is a key feature as the courses and labs can be repeated as often as desired to ensure great retention. Subscription members also receive a monthly e-newsletter with scheduling information and other STEM information and resources culled from best education practices in use around the globe. In addition to the current STEM labs, BrainSTEMTV.org will soon offer selective curriculum for parents and students in categories ranging from family wellness to personal finance.
While not a limiting factor to individual advancement and personal development, the curriculum and labs are categorized by ages and developmental experience aligned with national education standards. Additional subscription packages are available for families wanting more labs each month. The basic categories or grade/age groups for courses and labs are:
- New Explorers (Grades K-2): Courses and labs spark a child’s basic creativity through at home enrichment courses and fun science projects. Whether or not the student ever uses her or his STEM education to pursue a career in fields ranging from engineering to a medical doctor, what the child learns are foundational skills to succeed in school and into the future or simply having fun engaging in art and music projects. Examples of courses and hands-on-labs include learning about pollinators and how they help bring food to the table and creating beautiful marbled designs on papers for cards or crafts using shaving cream and food coloring.
- Young Explorers (Grades 3-5): Now that the student has started her or his journey into the magical world of “science as fun,” BrainSTEMTV.org scientists and educators lead projects that challenge the students in a wide variety of subject areas. By using their basic knowledge, the students complete courses and learn how to create projects with their brains and hands. Students develop skills by using and developing both sides of their brain. Examples of courses and hands-on-labs include exploring the diversity of plants and learning how to collect plant samples that will last for decades; building a model lung that helps students understand this vital organ; and exploring the invisible force of magnetism while building a compass.
- Explorers (Grades 6-8): This is where affordable BrainSTEMTV.org packages deliver in home education and projects that help students put it all together. The students see how STEM education is an integral part of their future and a passkey that can help them change the world for the better. Through focused-curriculum and hands-on discovery projects, they build the confidence they need to harness the power of ideas. Examples of courses and hands-on-labs include students exploring the complex world of chemistry in the food we eat and taking their knowledge to the next level while they create crystals and extract DNA from live cells using basic kitchen materials.
- Summit Explorers (Grades 9-12) Content under development.
Real Scientists Teaching Real Science
The curriculum development group includes Dr. Shawn Carlson, who received his Master’s in Physics and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from UCLA. A recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship Award for his contributions in science education, Dr. Carlson’s examination of how young people learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics led to the development of a system of instruction called “Engagement Education.” This innovative approach and teaching philosophy encourages youth to discover their personal passions in these areas. His scientific approach has been featured in multiple national publications such as Newsweek, US News and World Report as well as numerous newspapers and TV shows.
According to Dr. Carlson: “Even if a student is focused on a career outside of technology and science, I have seen how every student opens a door to future success by having a basic knowledge about STEM fundamentals before she or he tosses their mortar board caps up at their high school commencement ceremony. Education that creates familiarity with basic concepts in engineering and technology is nothing less than holding the power to change the world with a single idea.”
J. Ryan Merrill, Education Director, develops curriculum and content for classes and tech labs. While conducting demonstrations and experiments for local youth, he became known as JR Bubbles, the Master of Science. He hosts Science Time, the flagship series on the BrainSTEMTV.org network. A research scientist in physical chemistry, he received his Master’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Colorado, where he conducted advanced research in organic polymers. Most recently, Merrill has spent several years teaching a general chemistry class and labs at the university and he has multiple years of tutoring experience.