BACK OFFICE BUSINESS: Nebraska District Partners with Discovery Education to Create Dynamic STEM Learning Environments

Teens studying with laptop and tablet computer in library.

Nebraska’s Bellevue Public Schools (opens in new tab)(BPS) announced today a new partnership with Discovery Education (opens in new tab), provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, focused on creating STEM learning opportunities across all 15 of the district’s elementary schools. Through this new collaboration, BPS’s educators will receive digital content and professional development from Discovery Education that will help them create digital learning environments that engage students in STEM.

Situated next to Offutt Air Force Base, BPS’s mission is to provide its approximately 10,000 students, 25% of whom are connected to the military in some way, the skills needed for personal success and responsible citizenship in a global society.  Among the ways BPS is preparing all students for success beyond graduation is by creating immersive STEM and project-based learning environments that help students build the critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creative skills that will be in high demand by future employers. To drive Students & Teachers Energizing Minds, the district’s initiative creating these new learning environments, BPS sought Discovery Education’s outstanding digital content and professional learning services. 

One of the resources BPS will use is Discovery Education Streaming Plus (opens in new tab), a digital service supplementing instruction across all K-12 curricular areas that helps build students’ mastery in understanding and evaluating information. Teacher resources include lesson plans, instructional strategies, and content collections organized around themes.  Students can access images, primary source documents, podcasts, oral interviews, books on tape, articles, and videos, as well as a collection of new STEM/STEAM resources.

Discovery Education’s STEM Connect (opens in new tab) will also serve as a key component of the district’s new effort to build an engaging STEM curriculum.  A  web-based, interdisciplinary K-8 supplemental resource built on a 4Cs STEM skills framework, STEM Connect aims to help students develop the creative, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills they need for success beyond graduation. Featuring flexible, modular learning units, STEM Connect includes real-world challenges, career connections, and hands-on activities.

To help BPS’s educators integrate their new digital resources into instruction and build a culture of STEM teaching and learning across the school system, district educators will also participate in a sustained, scalable, three-year professional learning initiative from Discovery Education called STEM Leader Corps (opens in new tab). BPS educators participating in STEM Leader Corps will learn new strategies and best practices for building and sustaining a culture of STEM in their schools and will be supported as they master new STEM instructional approaches. 

BPS’s use of Discovery Education Streaming Plus and STEM Connect and their educators’ participation in STEM Leader Corps will be funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of Defense Educational Activities. The 54-month grant provides resources for schools connected to military bases. Around 70 districts connected to a military base across the country applied for the grant, and 30 grants were awarded.

BPS educators will also be supported by the Discovery Education Community (opens in new tab) which connects members across school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events.