On November 23rd, 2009 President Obama announced National Lab Day as part of the Administration's Educate to Innovate campaign. National Lab Day (NLD) is an effort to bring more authentic, hands-on, discovery-based lab experiences to students.
This year's National Lab Day will culminate in a series of events and activities at the local, regional and national level during the first week of May 2010. But it is more than just a day. It is a nationwide movement to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our schools. It is teachers working with community volunteers and communities rallying around teachers and scientists and other STEM professionals donating their time and expertise to our schools. National Lab Day seeks to foster partnerships between teachers, schools, STEM professionals, volunteers, federal agencies, and professional organizations that will continue long after the first National Lab Day.
National Lab Day is a partnership between federal agencies, foundations, professional societies, and other STEM-related organizations. The National Science Teachers Association is a founding partner of NLD. The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy are among the federal agencies providing support and expertise. The Jack D. Hidary, Bill and Melinda Gates and the MacArthur Foundations are joining with industry to finance the effort.
It's a simple process to join National Lab Day. Teachers register on the National Lab Day website (www.nationallabday.org) and describe the project they want or need in their classroom. Whether its additional lab equipment, personal mentoring from a scientist, a visit to a working lab, technology support, internships, help with a lesson plan, up-to-date career information, help with a science fair project, or just an extra set of hands for a class project, teachers know best what is needed to improve their students' hands-on learning experiences.
NLD is teacher driven. After posting their projects and requests, teachers will be matched with a list of local volunteers. These volunteers-- university STEM students, local scientists, engineers, STEM professionals and other members of the community who have also joined the NLD hub--will form a local community of support, helping the teacher to achieve desired objectives. The NLD website will also connect teachers to the resources, funding opportunities, and information on relevant programs and events that they need. Teachers can also use the site to connect with volunteers, raise funds, and schedule face-to-face meetings and events.
The Role of Volunteers
Volunteers will be able to browse teacher requests and will be automatically notified of any “matches” to teacher requests. Volunteers can respond to specific teacher requests or they can offer general expertise, resources, and/or assistance.
Learn more about National Lab Day at www.nationallabday.org, and join the scores of teachers who have already signed up to bring more hands on learning to their students.