IEEE REACH, an Online Educational Resource that brings the history of STEM to Life
High school students know how to use the latest gadgets, but most are unaware of who invented the technologies, and how they impact not just their lives, but all of society. To fill the gap, the IEEE History Center developed REACH (Raising Engineering Awareness through the Conduit of History). Funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation, REACH provides educational resources to high school history teachers so they may easily weave the history of technology, and the critical role of engineers in our society, into their lessons. The resources situate science, technology, and engineering in their social and humanistic contexts.
Through a historic lens, students learn about technological inventions and developments, and explore the interconnections that these have with society, economics, culture and politics. Students discover how technology can shape society and how society in turn can shape technology. The program enables students to gain a greater understanding of how science and technology are relevant to their lives and their future and enhances their technological and cultural literacy skills.
Available through the IEEE REACH website, reach.ieee.org, the resources include complete inquiry units, or lesson plans, based on the C3 Framework (College, Career, and Civics) of the National Council for the Social Studies, primary and secondary sources, hands-on-activities, short videos for use in a classroom or flipped classroom setting, and background information for teachers.
In the year and a half, since the IEEE REACH program went “live”, the program has obtained 450 subscribers, hailing from 35 different countries, and has the potential to reach over 250,000 students! The website has already won the Hertha Ayrton Prize for Digital engagement from the British Society for the History of Science.
After witnessing a REACH presentation at the 2018 National Council for History Educators’ (NCHE) national conference, Melanie Kirchhof, a High School Social Studies Teacher from Austin, Texas shared, “One of my favorite parts of history is the development of technology and its impact on society. Finding out that there is a free resource available to teachers has been the highlight of the NCHE 2018 conference. I can’t wait to share this resource with other teachers, both Social Studies and STEM!”
Why not visit the program’s website (reach.ieee.org) and see what all the excitement is about! From electric light and radio, to refrigerated railcars and the tools of early maritime navigation the REACH program explores the historic connections found between these specific technologies and society and provides a necessary and often missing element in both social studies and STEM education – the social context needed to understand STEM fields and to become truly technologically literate.