walkSTEM® is an initiative developed by Dr. Dhingra that started in 2017. Initially, Dr Dhingra collaborated with Dr. Whitney, founder of the National Museum of Mathematics, the only math museum in the US, and walkSTEM initiative advisor. He and Dr. Dhingra adapted his “math walks” which he designed in New York, Washington D.C, and other cities to design a few STEM walks in Dallas, beginning with the walkSTEM @ Dallas Arts District tour which launched on Pi Day (March 14) in 2017. The partnership led to the use of mathematics as a language and vehicle that allows walkers to engage in real world-, inquiry-, and observation-based learning relating to a wide range of STEM and STEAM themes. We are dedicated to connecting informal and formal STEM education, ensuring that students can see themselves in STEM and see STEM wherever they are – whether that’s in school or out. By creating walkSTEM experiences that span communities, we build STEM learning ecosystems that increase each child’s access to varied and rich experiential learning experiences in their daily lives. We encourage members of all communities to partner with this initiative, so we can continue to grow walkSTEM ecosystems across communities. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get involved, please email us here.
We have produced 35 STEM walking tours and counting, containing over 250 stops across audio and video platforms. We’re thrilled that a growing number of these walkSTEM tours are being produced by our community of walkSTEM partners. We partner with a wide range of institutions that serve our youth in varying ways, including schools, after school programs, art, science and other museums, zoos, parks, playgrounds, colleges, corporate campuses, downtown neighborhoods, and more. You can read more about the process of crafting walkSTEM tours, and how to create a tour at your own location, here.
Since 2017, walkSTEM tours have evolved to develop a range of different types. Each tour can have a different focus based upon your goals – math walks, nature walks, art walks, STEM walks with a career lens, design-themed walks, computational thinking-themed walks, community and social studies-oriented walks, and more! You can even create a walkSTEM experience using a mixture of different themes, promoting inter-disciplinary learning. We love having new and different themes, as long as our key criteria are met: each walking tour should include inquiry-, real world-, and observation-based components, as well as having STEM connections.
At talkSTEM, we stay true to the spirit of exploration and wonder that comes from seeing the world around us through the lens of STEM. All our walks are designed with the goal of growing STEM mindsets. By providing many examples of walkSTEM tours in a wide variety of settings and by inviting students of all backgrounds to share their STEM narratives about the spaces and activities they care about. We help foster STEM identities in children who may not always see themselves as STEM people. We work through partnership and collaboration with a wide range of youth-serving groups (both school-based and out of school) and are also very open to all individuals, regardless of age, using our resources and sharing their unique STEM perspectives on real world environments and activities. If you are interested in virtually volunteering by creating your own walkSTEM tour of a public space – for others to enjoy – anywhere in the world, read more here and send us an email.
We are excited about math walks, a special category of walkSTEM tours. In 2021, we launched a five-year research project in partnership with Southern Methodist University. Together, we are building an app that will allow out of school programs to find math in different places. Learn more about our collaborative MathFinder project here.
Accessing walkSTEM Tours
walkSTEM tours are created by our team, as well as by partners in our growing community. A walkSTEM tour can be experienced in a variety of ways, whether in-person or virtually. You can access our video content on both our YouTube channel and the open-access library available on MathFinder, an initiative talkSTEM created in partnership with SMU and with support from NSF funding. You can access many of our STEM walks as app-based, GPS-enabled tours created through our partnership with Otocast, an app-based audio and visual tour platform.
To get started using Otocast to view walkSTEM tours, simply download the app to your device, and search for “walkSTEM” once booted up to view a list of all our content on the platform. Tap a tour of your choice to select it, and simply tap a location pin or image in that tour’s carousel to select a tour stop to read descriptions, get directions, view images and videos, or listen to the audio. For more information, you can view our guide to walkSTEM on Otocast that we created for our March Mathness Challenge, or our generic guide here.
Many walkSTEM experiences are also available on belouga.org as virtual learning experiences. Parents and educators can freely access video-based learning episodes on this platform.
Our website itself also provides freely downloadable, standards-aligned educator guides and student worksheets to aid in student inquiry and active learning. Click here to view our chart of walkSTEM resources and opportunities. To learn how to create your own walkSTEM tour at your location, click here.
Who can design a walkSTEM tour?
Absolutely any individual, group, or organization can be a walkSTEM partner – whether you’re a parent group, teacher, community educator, corporate mentor, or other invested group. Every child is a STEM child and every space is a STEM space. To learn how to create your own walkSTEM tour at your location, click here.
We provide standards alignments for our walking tours. We also provide professional development to all educators in school and out of school so they can use the walkSTEM platform and methods. Learn more here about the range of our current partnerships, and send us an email here if you’d like to learn more!
What type of content works for walkSTEM tours?
walkSTEM tours are always designed to be flexible and personalized. There is tremendous freedom in terms of the specific content within each tour – a walkSTEM tour can be theme-based (around art, nature, architecture, geometry, early childhood math, and other themes), concept-based around specific topics (such as computational thinking, data science, and other topics of interest to teachers or students), activity-based (around cooking, sports, and other activities), or any other themes that you can think of!
In short, you can go on all sorts of walks with the goal of looking at the world through the lens of STEM. Educators and organizations are always free to customize their content and change specifics based upon what topics, themes, or concepts they want to highlight at different points in time. There is opportunity to infuse interesting stories and anecdotes in the content, if desired, such that the walking tour can humanize and present the multidimensional nature of STEM. This contextualization is a primary goal of the work we do as we try to grow STEM mindsets amongst all children and their adults!
Every child is a STEM child, Every space is a STEM space
talkSTEM works hard to make unique and high quality STE(A)M educational content freely available to all children. We partner with such youth-serving organizations as Dallas ISD, Girls Inc, Imagine Science, and more. Every dollar you contribute goes directly to our educational programming and content creation that reaches under-resourced student populations. Please support us.Donate Now