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Learning is Relative
As a lifelong educator, I am fascinated by the patterns and trends based on generational learning groups. Whether it’s Gen X, Y, or Z, each has a set of characteristics, that when understood, allow for more effective instruction.  Understanding the generational traits of students can help guide decisions regarding instructional content, processes, and assessments.   
Meet Generation Alpha
Generation Alpha students, born 2010 – 2025, are pre-school to second graders (3-8 years old).  This generation may be defined by their relationship with Information Technology (IT). They are born into it. Their first babysitter is an iPad (or cell phone) holding ready access to the world in the palms of their hands. 
Gen Alpha will be students longer and should be the most educated of any group. It’s expected that 90% will graduate high school.  A master’s degree will become standard. Most will continue to delve into a specialty, delaying entrance to the workforce until they feel a high level of competency and expertise.  Based on current trends, more than half of the Alphas will likely be living with their parents into their late 20’s.  However, they will be the wealthiest generation and many more will likely become “centenarians.”

This generation is being born into a world of constant informational feeds from a host of digital sources. They will be better able than previous generations to deal with complexity, manage multiple data, and translate complexity into what’s simple and essential. This ability to process larger amounts of data and not get bogged down in detail, will be a fundamental Alpha quality- and potentially key to their success. Gen Alpha will be the most connected group in the world, yet they will feel more isolated than any before. The lack of human connection will strongly influence their choices.

Gen Alpha in Our Schools
I recall a recent visit to a small, first-grade classroom. The students were sitting in a semi-circle near an interactive board, responding to audio/visual media. They were instructed to share with a partner what they had just learned. Boom…. emotional smorgasbord! A couple of pairs smiled and began excitedly sharing, listening and responding pleasantly. Another pair began arguing about who was supposed to start. In a third pair, one partner was distracted by the two arguing, so she decided to get up and referee for the sake of peace. The newly deserted partner became visibly upset and made a bee-line to the teacher for comfort. One child refused to be partnered, even after much coaxing from the adults. The teacher moved swiftly and calmly between each scenario offering positive reinforcement and a gentle tone. Later, she shared her opinion that the social behaviors of these young Alpha’s, seemed less mature than their counterparts of not so long ago. She added that they preferred individual tasks over team tasks.
Supporting Gen Alpha
Although they possess digital proficiency, Generation Alpha will require more work with social interactions.  They will need ongoing support to develop the necessary skills for partnering with others to achieve a common goal. Processes that provide structured opportunities for collaborative learning must be taught, modeled, and rehearsed to help this generation make meaningful connections between their real and virtual worlds.  

The S2TEM Centers SC Disciplinary Literacy Virtual Library  highlights strategies that promote effective student collaboration. These are two among those detailed:

  • Partner Dialogue - pairs of students discuss an assigned topic followed by listening, paraphrasing, and summarizing the other's thinking and then introducing their partner’s thoughts to the larger group.  This strategy focuses these thinkers, who are often egocentric, on the thoughts of others. 
  • Table Talk -  groups of students share accountability for supporting each other’s learning during a task. In such a setting, students will refine interpersonal skills as well as build an appreciation for the input of classmates in designing solutions to complex challenges. 

Both strategies may be implemented with anchor charts that provide stems and guidelines to support productive dialogue. Check out the library to find these and other strategies that will support Gen Alphas in developing the capacity and skills to be well-rounded, global citizens. 


Educating generation alpha: What are the demands of the 21st century workforce?

The Complete Guide To Generation Alpha, The Children Of Millennials

Meet Generation Alpha: Three Things Educators Should Know

Generation Next: Meet Gen Z and the Alphas

Meet Generation Alpha: Teaching the Newest Generation of Students

Visit our S²TEM Centers SC team!  They will be at the following conference offering sessions.

What’s in Your Disciplinary Literacy Strategy Toolbox?

Participant’s toolbox will be filled with disciplinary literacy strategies that can easily be implemented in classrooms and assist students in developing world-class skills.


STEM’s Not What We Teach; It’s What We Do

How do you STEM? We will examine community partnerships and instructional leadership experiences in STEM to become better prepared for implementing STEM-mindedness communitywide.

Wow!  So That's a STEAM Classroom

Designed for Administrators, participants will examine the components of a successful STEAM classroom as well as discover new ways to support and observe these classrooms. Facilitated by Alice Gilchrist.

Making It Matter:  Giving Purpose to STEM

Participants will explore purposeful and inexpensive ways to engage underrepresented groups in STEM.  Facilitated by Jodi Zeis.

Free Downloadable Math & Science Lessons

A collection of professionally developed K-8 lessons, aligned with the latest SC standards.


Explore our collection of STEM events and opportunities around the state. 

Have a STEM event you'd like to adverstise, visit STEM Linx!  Posting is free for registered users.  Add your opportunity to STEM Linx and you just may find it advertised in our next issue of Insights!

Differentiating Adult Learning 3--Day Course

Explore strategies for how adults learn and learn how to transform your schools and districts into sustainable learning environments. Learn More

Award Opportunity: STEM Educator of the Month

March 8, 2018, 6 - 9 pm
North Charleston
Know a classroom or non-formal educator who is doing amazing STEM education? Consider nominating someone for the “STEM Educator of the Month”, which is an award sponsored by the Lowcountry STEM Collaborative and WCIV News Channel 4.

12 awards will be given out in 2018 (one/month), and nominations are due by the 10th of the previous month for consideration for the award the following month.

MUSC Science Café

March 8, 2018, 6 - 9 pm
North Charleston

The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, which stands to reason why poorly managed oral health can compromise other parts of the body and overall well-being. Come hear what Dr. Amy B. Martin has to say about this important area of research.

Environmental Education Workshop for Educators

March 16, 2018
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Greenville, SC

PLT’s and Project WET’s programs build on children’s sense of wonder and provide an early foundation for developing positive impressions about nature and lifelong social and academic skills.

Fluor Engineering Challenge

Deadline:  March 16, 2018

Build a ball launcher and target to catch the ball.

The 2018 Fluor Engineering Challenge is designed as a fun hands-on engineering project to do at home, in the classroom, or as part of an afterschool program.

Students may build and test their ball launchers anytime now through March 16, 2018.  All entries are due by midnight Pacific Time (GMT-8) on March 16, 2018.

Makers & Music Festival

March 31, 2018. 2:00 - 10:00 pm
Spartanburg, SC

Tech-n-Tinker invites everyone to the new Project Hub Spartanburg building located in Hampton Heights historic district.

Join us for an afternoon of STEAM activities: live demonstrations, innovative technology, singer songwriter spotlight, robotics, performance art, local maker silent auction, and live music.

The festival is for children of all ages and there will be activities for the entire family.

Quest Spring Break Camp 2018

April 2 - April 6
Lexington, SC

Discover Spring Break fun with The Quest Zone! Students will explore environmental engineering, aeronautical engineering, food engineering.

iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Festival

April 7, 2018
Greenville, SC
A free community event featuring interactive exhibits and live stage shows from more than 70 STEAM organizations.  Find out More!

KidWind Challenge

April 7, 2018
The Citadel, Charleston SC
Students in grades 4-12 are invited to participate in two fun renewable energy competitions.  Find out More!

Creating a Mindset for Innovation

April 11, 2018, 8:00 am-noon
Trident Technical College
North Charleston, SC
Bringing together those with interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) innovation taking place in classrooms, the workplace, and the community. The symposium will center around Creating a Mindset for Innovation.

4-H Engineering Challenge

April 14, 2018
Midlands Technical College, West Columbia, SC
An opportunity for students 9-19 to learn, have fun, demonstrate their science, technology, engineering and math skills, and compete for individual and team honors.  Find out More!

Code Quest

April 21, 2018
Greenville, SC

Lockheed Martin hosts Code Quest, an annual computer programming competition where teams of 2-3 high school students each work together for 2.5 hours to solve problems by using JAVA, Python and/or programming to complete the “quest.” The problem set consists of 15-20 challenges created by Lockheed Martin engineers and computer programmers.

Dig STEM Festival 2018

April 21, 2018
Williston, SC
Come experience STE(A)M with your the entire family!  Hands-on activities, live performances, interactive demonstrations, and family-oriented STE(A)M entertainment sure to nurture a students’ curiosity about STE(A)M as well as engage parents.

Canstruction® Jr Competition at Tanger Outlets Charleston

April 21 - 22, 2018
North Charleston, SC

Join us for Tanger Charleston’s 1st Canstruction Jr. Competition event!
Canstruction Jr. is a charitable competition where students ages 10-18 years old design and build structures made entirely of canned food while incorporating design/engineering principles. At the end of the event all food is donated to the Lowcountry Food Bank.

Anderson Airshow and STEM Festival

May 19, 2018, 10 am - 2 pm
Anderson, SC

An opportunity for students 9-19 to learn, have fun, demonstrate their science, technology, engineering and math skills, and compete for individual and team honors.


The Gene Machine Mobile Science Laboratory

This mobile science lab allows the technology and expertise of the Greenwood Genetic Center to come directly to classrooms across South Carolina at no charge to the school. Find out More!


Clemson University Life Sciences Outreach Center

Offering laboratory field trips in modern genetics and biotechnology to school groups. Students will use modern technology to generate and analyze results and to learn key concepts.  View a list of labs and for information on bringing CULSOC labs to your school.
Copyright © 2018 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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