FLATE’s Executive Director Examines the Importance & Impact of STEM Education in the Educational Continuum

Are we as a nation heading in the right direction with the many different programs and various approaches to enhance STEM education throughout the educational continuum, K-20? What have we learned from the past? What do we know about good teaching and learning practices that we should now implement? Will putting more money into the silos of STEM help produce the STEM workers we need now and will need more of in the future? Is it time for systemic change In STEM education practices? In addition to STEM workers with specific skills and knowledge to support emerging technologies, our country will also need for all citizens to be STEM literate.

Dr. Rodger Bybee, past executive director of the National Research Council’s Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (CSMEE), and director emeritus of the BSCS (Biological Science Curriculum Moving towards STEM literacy) defines STEM literacy with these 4 bullets:

• Acquiring scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical knowledge and using that knowledge to solve and interpret STEM-related issues.
• Understanding the characteristic features of STEM disciplines as forms of human endeavors that include the processes of inquiry, design, and analysis.
• Recognizing how STEM disciplines shape our material, intellectual, and cultural world.
• Engaging in STEM-related issues with the ideas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as concerned, affected, and constructive citizens.

Further, Dr. Bybee suggests alternative definitions of and approaches to STEM education, centering education on contextual-STEM. One strategy would include health, energy efficiency, natural resources, environmental quality, hazard mitigation and frontiers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These “units” would be studied at various levels: personal (self, family, and peers); social (community); and global (life across the world). These units are problem-based and offer relevancy to the theory and abstract nature of pure math and science. Food for thought for all of us. Please feel free to comment and share your ideas below in this blog.

November is always very special for us at FLATE because we celebrate our annual educator and industry award winners as well as MAF’s Manufacturers of the year. Read about David, Dean and Art and their successes as well as their tireless commitment to manufacturing education. Know someone doing great things in or for education? You will be able to nominate them as early as March for the 2011 FLATE awards. Didn’t get the last sTEm puzzle? Try again this month sTEm puzzle #13 might bring you luck in cracking its sTEm connections.