Weekly roundup: STEM reading challenge takes off, Irvine music instructor named Teacher of the Year, and more

STEAM Race to Space Reading Challenge

The second annual S.T.E.A.M. Race to Space Reading Challenge launched today, with Orange County teachers and students prepping for the three-week-long reading competition hosted by the Orange County Children’s Book Festival in partnership with 4SPACE and the Orange County Department of Education.

The Daily Pilot reported that the festivities officially began on Oct. 14 with a livestream event highlighting the challenge’s featured children’s authors. But teachers and parents can register their students online to track each child’s reading progress until the challenge’s final date of Nov. 4.

This challenge promotes students’ exploration of careers like robotics and artificial intelligence while learning about STEM and the arts through storybooks.

Participating K-12 students are encouraged to follow the recommended lists of STEM-themed books based on each grade level. Every child who completes the reading challenge through the basic level will receive a certificate of completion, along with a rewards package. Students who advance further in the reading challenge will be in the running to win prizes, such as NBA tickets or a chat with NASA astronaut Jack Fisher.

“We want to do this to open the door to kids reading 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 the Pilot.

Teachers and families can learn more at www.readsteam.org.

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 virtually launched by OCDE on Oct. 19 for third- through fifth-grade teachers and school counselors.
  • Trabuco Hills High School graduate Maya Benham has become one of only 343 students worldwide to receive a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Drawing exam taken last spring.
Maya Benham
  • Ben Case, an instrumental music teacher in the Irvine Unified School District, was honored as one of five 2023 California Teachers of the Year.
  • College Corps, a state-run tutoring program recently launched with the help of Gov. Gavin Newsom, plans to send 3,250 college students into school districts and community after-school programs to offer tutoring and mentorship services.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.