STEM-focused Walking Tours Pick Up Stride in Dallas Area

The walkSTEM community outreach program has added more locations, including the Dallas Arboretum, for students and educators to explore everyday connections to math- and science-related concepts.

walkSTEM - students in the Dallas Arboretum

The walkSTEM program, an initiative launched by education nonprofit talkSTEM last year, has expanded to reveal the breadth of math and science found in more everyday environments throughout the city.

The Dallas nonprofit’s first docent-led walks in 2017 navigated groups to find examples of science, technology, engineering, and math in the Dallas Arts District. Now, there are tours at seven Dallas sites with at least four more coming soon.

Most recently, the program started a walk through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. During the walkSTEM tour June 8, students were led by Arboretum educators through four parts of the garden.

Educators encouraged students to observe inherent patterns, shapes, designs, and repetition in nature, and crafted exercises for students, such as estimating how much space a single plant needs to grow or observing pollinators to identify which plants they visit most often.

 
walkSTEM

During the Arboretum walkSTEM tour, students were encouraged to observe inherent patterns, shapes, designs, and repetition in nature. [Photo: Dallas Arboretum]

WALKSTEM INSPIRED BY NATIONAL MUSUEM OF MATHEMATICS

The walkSTEM program was inspired by similar tours at the National Museum of Mathematics in New York. The museum’s founder Dr. Glen Whitney serves as an advisor for the Dallas series.

The tours are free for the public and can either be live docent-led walks, self-guided tours with signage, maps, and handouts, or Otocast app-guided tours.

Tours are designed for an audience ranging from upper-level elementary grades to adults, and students and their families, school groups, and organizations can participate. Depending on the location, tours can range in size from five to 75 people. Participants are divided into smaller groups with docents.

WALKSTEM PARTNERS WITH UTSW, SMU & OTHERS

Since its inception, walkSTEM has partnered with area organizations to create additional tours outside of its regular programming.

During late spring of this year, walkSTEM partnered with The Dallas Morning News, UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Southern Methodist University for an event called “Science in the City,” where participants could tour state-of-the-art science labs at UT Southwestern and SMU and view hands-on demonstrations with scientists. The event connected DMN readers to science research happening locally. 

“Our vision is a world where every person is a STEM person and our mission is to create transformative experiences that connect STEM to the everyday environment/world.”

Jonathan Edquid

The walkSTEM program also has expanded to include video walks available online through walkSTEM academy, which is a web collection of training and best-practice videos for educators looking for a model of how to take students on a walkSTEM experience. Students and families who might not have access to a live walkSTEM experience can utilize the video library, too. 

Gooch Elementary School, Solar Preparatory School for Girls, St. Philip’s Academy, and Mount Auburn Elementary School have partnered with walkSTEM to use the program as a model for in-class and after-school programming.  

“Our vision is a world where every person is a STEM person and our mission is to create transformative experiences that connect STEM to the everyday environment/world,” Jonathan Edquid, talkSTEM program manager, said in an email to Dallas Innovates.

Maira Carrero and Mariah Smith pick out colored tiles on the Genesis, the Gift of Life glass mosiac in front of the Dallas Museum of Art during a walkSTEM tour last year. [Photo: Sarah Bradbury]

OTHER WALKSTEM LOCATIONS

  • Hall Arts (self-guided)
  • NorthPark Center — Art Rocks! (docent-led)
  • Youth Department of J. Erik Jonsson Central Library (self-guided)
  • Dallas City Hall Plaza (self-guided)
  • Fair Park (video available on walkSTEM academy)

 LOCATIONS COMING SOON

  • SMU (self-guided)
  • Girl Scouts STEM Center of Excellence (self-guided)
  • Dallas Love Field (self-guided)
  • Trinity River Audubon Center (docent-led and self-guided)

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