The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) BLOSSOMS Program (Blended Learning Open Source Science Or Math Studies) announced it has signed a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Atlantis Charter School in Fall River, Massachusetts. Under the agreement, the two institutions will work together to train high school teachers to use and create BLOSSOMS lessons, and make the hands-on learning videos on various STEM topics a regular part of the curriculum.

“Atlantis is the first school in the Commonwealth to give BLOSSOMS video lessons a leading role in the classroom. It’s a forward-looking program we hope will serve as a model for other innovative schools across the state,” said MIT Professor Richard Larson, director of the MIT BLOSSOMS program. “Adding BLOSSOMS to the curriculum will not only help improve STEM education for students, but will also expose current and aspiring teachers to new tools and techniques for engaging students in topics that are typically difficult to teach.”

BLOSSOMS videos are designed to move educators away from the scripted lecture format with its emphasis on memorization for tests to one that promotes active learning and critical thinking. The 50-minute lessons, typically shown on a large-screen at the front of the classroom, are interspersed with breaks, during which students – guided by their teacher – engage in a variety of activities that challenge them to problem solve. But perhaps most importantly, the lessons demonstrate to students how many STEM topics relate to their everyday lives and are presented in a way students find both interesting and challenging.

“The idea is get more young people interested in STEM and show them how the various topics relate to the real world. That way, more students will become engaged and motivated to pursue STEM careers, where employment opportunities will be in the highest demand.  In that sense, the initiative will help advance our mission to spur economic development and revitalization in the region because it will connect more students to higher education and industry by promoting STEM study,” said Michael Lauro, associate executive director at Atlantis Charter School.

The partnerships kicks off next month with a training session during which teachers will be familiarized with the BLOSSOMS program and provided an overview of the best practice elements of the BLOSSOMS “teaching duet” pedagogy method, which enhances the teaching of certain lessons with the lively video presence of a guest lecturer.  Teachers will eventually use their training to begin producing their own BLOSSOMS videos for use in the newly launched STEM and Education academies.

“Atlantis Charter School is one of the longest-standing charter schools in Massachusetts. We currently serve 1,100 students in one of the most economically challenged regions of the state. This partnership with MIT BLOSSOMS embodies our school’s mission to provide an education second to none, yielding academic excellence and lifelong learning skills. Our students and faculty will benefit tremendously. What’s more, the videos we create will be freely available online for use in other schools worldwide,” said Robert L. Beatty, executive director of Atlantis Charter School.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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