It had been a long, hot and muggy Chicago summer. I was the principal of a private school that had decided to move to a new building, and I had spent countless hours...
STEM Education- Preparing Students for the Future
STEM education: emphasizing and empowering our students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math is an important component in preparing our students for the future. STEM schools or STEM classes will aid their transition into these fields of study in College or University. By providing our students with a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics we are helping to ensure that they will be able to compete in our global economy.
As the world continues to progress away from manual labor, more and more professions are requiring a strong background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and yet fewer and fewer students are opting to pursue these paths in college. Should the current tend continue, the United States will not only find it difficult to compete in the global economy, but there will not be the manpower necessary to maintain the general workforce.
Initially started as special magnet schools, many educators and administrators have come to recognize the value of STEM education for all students. By emphasizing and integrating more science, technology, engineering and mathematics into the curriculum, educators are finding that students are developing better critical thinking and analysis skills. As students’ confidence and knowledge in these areas grow, they become more inclined to accept the challenge of pursing higher education in these fields.
Making these kinds of adjustments to the curriculum requires planning and funding not necessarily available in the average school budget. Fortunately there are now many groups available to help schools implement the necessary changes. In some communities the local businesses are providing assistance as their future workforce is dependent on having personnel trained in these fields. Project Lead the Way is one such initiative. PLTW offers a comprehensive curriculum based on national standards, teacher training through affiliated universities, conferences for administrators and student career guidance counselors to explain how their courses benefit their students, as well as access to a nationwide support network. The National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology is another good resource. Their emphasis is on preparing educators to implement STEM classes into the curriculum in a way that excites and encourages students to explore, grow and master these important areas of study. NASA has a program as well. NASA Explorer Schools provides educators with a collection of free resources as well lessons on a range of STEM topics for grades 4-12. They also feature a Kids Club with activities that reinforce skills in Mathematics, Science and Technology for students in grades K-4 based on national standards. The National Science Foundation besides being a good resource for available programs has a listing of sources for funding STEM education initiatives.
Implementing STEM Education makes sense. Our technology driven society and global economy need young adults who are prepared to explore, develop and implement new ideas and systems. An adequate preparation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through STEM Classes or STEM schools is an investment not only in their future but in the future economic stability and growth of our country as well.