What Is Brilliant? A Compelling STEM Learning Platform
contributed by Brilliant.org
Editor’s note: This is not sponsored content. Rather, we are proud to share the tool with teachers as we’ve used it for years with students so when Brilliant contacted us, we immediately asked how we could help–and their new account free for teachers is the perfect way to do so.
Brilliant.org — a new tool for STEM teachers — uses the power of storytelling to help learners dive deep into a topic. With over 60 math, science, and computer science courses, students can engage with topics from Algebra and Chemistry to Advanced Calculus and Astrophysics.
Brilliant’s new Educators program allows teachers to access all of the courses on the site at no cost and has useful classroom tools so that teachers can assign selected content to students and monitor their progress. You can apply for access today at brilliant.org/educators.
You may be inclined to ask, with so many edtech tools out there, when might a great teacher use Brilliant?
Brilliant Is A STEM Learning Platform Way That Emphasizes Logic And Critical Thinking
Sparking Curiosity and Engagement I: Real-World Applications and Deeper Exploration
One dream of any teacher is for students to be engaged in material and to make deeper connections instead of just going through the motions to prepare for a test.
Brilliant aims to help the learner master the conceptual understanding of STEM topics and think more like a scientist or a mathematician, instead of just attempting to memorize facts that may show up on the test. The site builds a foundation of understanding with real-world applications and helps the students progress through a topic with a fun overarching storyline.
For example, in the Science Essentials course, the learner isn’t just told what a hypothesis is and the importance of knowing its definition; rather, Brilliant walks us through the development of the first smallpox vaccine by Edward Jenner in the 18th century in order to better understand the scientific process. This new tool for STEM teachers helps the learner see a hypothesis in action and the scientific process as a whole through a real-life event.
The Physics of the Everyday course helps students understand the physics of refrigerators, BMX bicycles, and airplanes, among others. Computational Biology explains how we can use Icelandic DNA to track Viking colonization. In Algebra Fundamentals, one lesson asks the question, “How much information is needed to solve a combination lock?”
Cryptocurrency is an important concept to understand as we move into a more digital economy. Some of the related concepts can feel a bit abstract, so Brilliant tells the fictional story of a town called Cryptonia with tales of dragons and gold in order to make challenging concepts more accessible and engaging. The site also includes courses on Neural Networks, Search Engines, and Quantum Computing for the ambitious computer science student.
Sparking Curiosity and Engagement II: Interactives and Animations
Brilliant’s interactives and animations take learning about a topic like algebra or physics to the next level.
Course: Geometry Fundamentals
Brilliant’s animations and interactives help solidify understanding of these concepts on a deeper level. After viewing a related animation on Brilliant, students could be asked “What’s another animation that Brilliant could’ve used to demonstrate this concept?” These are the types of questions that have multiple correct answers and get students thinking further about a topic to show their true understanding.
Brilliant for Differentiation
Differentiation is one of those words thrown around that’s really difficult to implement in practice. You likely have over 100 students. How can you easily differentiate?
In an Algebra setting, a student needing review could use Brilliant to dive into the Pre-Algebra or Algebra Fundamentals course while the advanced student could try Algebra II or Geometry Fundamentals.
Many educators have told us that Brilliant is an excellent new tool for STEM teachers to differentiate for their students who are pacing ahead of the rest of the class. If you’re wondering how you can extend their learning further without having to spend more time building extra lessons, get started on the Brilliant for Educators program.
Brilliant for Remote Learning
If your school is virtual during these challenging times, Brilliant is an excellent option to provide students with practice and growth at a distance. Brilliant’s Classroom feature makes it easy to assign any Brilliant lesson(s) onto Google Classroom and the progress monitoring dashboards allow teachers to see how students move through the lessons.
Finally, Daily Challenge questions are also available across several disciplines. Brilliant has over 1,000 of these questions in their archive for you to choose from; they can be done separately from full courses and are perfect for thought-provoking discussions and group-learning activities in the classroom. Check out an example of a Daily Challenge question here that involves math and economics:
What Brilliant Isn’t
Brilliant isn’t meant to be used as an assessment. It will inspire and challenge students. Even your best and brightest will make mistakes along the way and pick the wrong answers. However, these students will have their thinking pushed and benefit from the understanding that mistakes are necessary for growth.
Brilliant’s Principles of Learning allow for failure and contend that “the best learners allow themselves to make mistakes along their journey.” This is central to the learning experience on Brilliant and helps students understand that mistakes while moving through a course allow for growth opportunities and shouldn’t be anxiety-filled moments due to penalties to their grade.
Brilliant is one of the neatest new tools for STEM teachers, particularly at the middle and high school levels. With this unique and powerful learning platform, teachers can easily assign parts of a course or an entire course.
In addition, engaging Daily Challenge questions make for excellent bell-ringers. With the complete program currently available for free to educators, this is something that definitely belongs in your toolbox if you want to keep your students engaged and develop their conceptual understanding to think more like mathematicians or scientists.