Skip the summer learning slide by exploring STEM activities

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Educators said they spend the first few months of a new school year rehashing lessons from the year before, but there are ways to reduce summer learning loss. Students can develop their critical thinking skills by taking an interest in STEM.

Education experts call it the summer slide. While students enjoy time away from school during summer break, they lose some of what they learned during the school year.

Oxford Learning said a little more than two and a half months of math skills and two months of reading are lost over the summer. On the bright side, that same study said just two to three hours of educational learning per week could help your student stay on track.

But not all of that learning has to come from a text book.

“Learning is a mindset of the individual,” said astronomer David Weigel. “As long as you have some curiosity, you’re trying to explore and discover things, then that is something useful in everyday life.”

Weigel is the Director of the Intuitive Planetarium at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. He said exploring STEM subjects like astronomy, can help keep up critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

“Those are traits I think are lacking in our society today across the board,” he said.

The planetarium offers different presentations for students of all ages. Weigle said by exploring the universe here, it can open their eyes to other learning opportunities.

“Astronomy is such an easy thing to get involved in,” said Weigel. “You just have to go outside. You just have to look up.”

Special programs are scheduled at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center every Friday night at 7 p.m. all summer long. You can take a crash course on astronomy July 10 inside the planetarium.

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