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Texas Instruments Launches Program to Put the Brakes on “Summer Slide”

By Cait Etherington
May 29, 2018

Summer may be fun for kids but for many teachers and parents, the effects of summer on children can be alarming. “Summer slide” is a term used to describe the extent to which students forget key concepts over the summer months. While all subjects are impacted, some subjects, including technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, often see especially steep slides over the summer. This evidently creates a problem for teachers who often are forced to spend the entire month of September just getting students back to the performance levels they were exhibiting in June. Texas Instruments has launched an innovative blended learning program with the aim of putting the brakes on summer slide.

The Impact of “Summer Slide”

The National Summer Learning Association reports that the impact of summer slide is not only significant but widespread. According to the association, all young people experience learning losses when they do not regularly engage in educational activities over the summer months. As stated in their report, Doesn’t Every Child Deserve a Memorable Summer? “Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.” The association concludes that most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math over the summer months. Some students also suffer in terms of reading. There is substantial evidence, for example, that low-income students often lose more than two months in reading achievement.

For many years, schools, school districts, and even colleges and universities have sought to actively address the notable summer slide in literacy by requiring summer reading for all students. The common practice of assigning one or more summer books to students ensures that all students, and not only those with parents invested in extracurricular reading, continue to read through the summer months. Unfortunately, there is no widespread equivalent when it comes to STEM-based subjects. This is precisely the gap that Texas Instruments’ new summer program hopes to fill.

The Texas Instruments’ Solution

On May 22, Texas Instruments (TI) announced a program to stop “summer slide.” As stated in a news release issued to announce the new program, “From now through September, TI’s STEM squad will visit school campuses across the country, offering project-based learning activities that make important STEM concepts relevant in real-world, meaningful ways.” In addition, TI will also host “virtual field trips” throughout the summer to offer even more students an opportunity to engage with STEM activities.

Peter Balyta, president of TI Education Technology emphasizes, “Learning doesn’t have to end when the last school bell rings. Summer is an ideal time for students to experiment with math, science and even basic engineering, without the added pressure of grades or tests. TI’s summer STEM activities were designed with fun in mind, knowing that during the summer break, we need to work even harder to keep students engaged with STEM.”

The TI summer program will include a series of fun and simple activities that introduce students from middle school through high school to STEM, coding and the basics of engineering design. Among other activities, students can learn to program an alarm that will alert owners if they forget their pet in a hot car. They will also have an opportunity to learn about basic robotics.

While most of us are familiar with TI for their reliable line of calculators, which have been a standard back-to-school purchase for decades, TI continues to grow and expand. Its Education Technology division now also includes a range of resources for students and teachers designed promote STEM education. Its new program to combat summer slide among middle schoolers and high school students appears to be part of TI’s expanding educational mandate.