STEM reading challenge takes off, Irvine music teacher named teacher of the year, and more – OECD Newsroom


The second annual STEAM Race to Space Reading Challenge launched today, with teachers and students across Orange County preparing for the three-week reading contest hosted by the Orange County Children’s Book Festival in partnership with 4SPACE and the Department of Orange County Education.

The Daily driver reported the festivities officially began on October 14 with a live event featuring the children’s authors of the challenge. But teachers and parents can register their students online to track each child’s reading progress until the challenge’s final date, November 4.

This challenge encourages students to explore careers such as robotics and artificial intelligence while learning about STEM and the arts through storybooks.

Participating K-12 students are encouraged to complete the recommended lists of STEM-themed books according to each school level. Each child who completes the reading challenge to the basic level will receive a certificate of completion, along with a set of rewards. Students who advance further in the reading challenge will be in the running for prizes, such as NBA tickets or a conversation with NASA astronaut Jack Fisher.

“We want to do this to open the door for kids to read books beyond vampires and monsters, to read books related to science or (artificial intelligence) and books that open up the imagination,” Pat Burns, co-founder of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival, said in an interview with Pilot.

Teachers and families can learn more about

Here are some of the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • “The Punies” lesson series – inspired by the podcast created by the late Kobe Bryant – will be launched virtually by the OECD on October 19 for teachers and school counselors in grades three through five.
  • Maya Benham, a graduate of Trabuco Hills High School, became one of 343 students worldwide to achieve a perfect score on the advanced level drawing exam taken last spring.
Maya Benham
  • Ben Case, an instrumental music teacher in the Irvine Unified School District, has been honored as one of five California Teachers of the Year for 2023.
  • College Corps, a state-run tutoring program recently launched with the help of Governor Gavin Newsom, plans to send 3,250 students in school districts and community after-school programs to provide tutoring and mentoring services.

This is the part where we encourage you to follow local education news by bookmarking the OECD Newsroom, subscribe to email updates and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.


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