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Gulfstreamo: Growing our Future Workforce R

The Importance of


The Sprouts of Conceptual Brain Networks

Game-Based Learning


S.T.E.M. Education

MERC-Mercer Engineering Research Center

What is S.T.E.M. & why do I need to know?


Ways to Keep Up

New me now or pay me later

Technology in the Classroom Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)

The Importance of and beyond 4th and 10....Don’t Punt Getting re-inspired to teach

Educator Issue

August 2012

Could he be the next Bill Gates? Without STEM education we may never know.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Creating a Better Future for All of Us High School Summer Internship TAG Education Link TechAmerica Spirit of Endeavor Award Student Web Challenge Health IT Leadership Summit Student Inovation Award

Contents 3

What is S.T.E.M. and why do I need to know?


Growing our future workforce


Writing Sprouts Conceptual Networks


Miriam R. Hodesh

Dr. Judy Willis


Game-Based Learning and S.T.E.M. Education


The Need for Re-Inspiration




Please Keep Up


An Open Letter to Principles


Diversity Participation


The Importance of and beyond

MERC-Mercer Engineering Research Center

Wayne Carley

Michael Robertson TAG Education Collaborative

Wayne Carley

Eric Sheninger

Emilian Geczi, M.S. & Keith Cerk, M.A., M.Div.

Amy Hudnall

Reproduction of contents is prohibited without written permission.

What is S.T.E.M. and why do I need to know?

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are the foundation of industry and commerce in Georgia and across the nation. Careers in S.T.E.M. related industries are vital for our economy, therefore early exposure, inclusion and encouragement should be a high priority in every grade and every class. Preparation for those careers begins this year in schools across America. The responsibility and privilege for inspiring our children in that direction rests squarely on the shoulders of our educators. Teaching is an incredibly challenging responsibility, therefore equipping and supporting our teachers in a wide variety of aspects is critical to teacher retention, motivation and attitude that directly effect student retention, inspiration and preparation for their careers ahead. S.T.E.M. Magazine exists to provide clarity on the subject of incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics into every class curriculum. In addition, S.T.E.M. Magazine will continue to encourage educators about the urgent need for this inclusion in light of their role in equipping students fully for their chosen careers. Simple exposure to S.T.E.M. subjects can be life changing for both students and educators. The future of American economics rests on the success of our S.T.E.M. education efforts in schools across the nation. The foundations laid in elementary and middle school are critical to interest levels, proficiency and test scores of high school students preparing to enter the work force.

Wayne Carley Publisher


S.T.E.M. Magazine Inc. is a non-profit education periodical for teachers and administrators at no cost. Wayne Carley, COO, is the publisher and senior editor for all content in S.T.E.M. Magazine. During 2010, Wayne taught over 8,000 students from 32 counties giving him unique exposure to the classroom environment and culture of area schools. This overview has influenced his perception of strengths and weaknesses of both students and teachers. S.T.E.M. Magazine is the product of those observations and concerns. S.T.E.M. Magazine believes that the key to success in seeing higher graduation rates, improved testing results, student inspiration and a strong aerospace work force rests in the hands of the teacher. The example and inspiration of individual educators carries tremendous weight on a daily basis, greatly impacting the quality and effectiveness of the classroom environment. The atmosphere and tone of the class directly influences the learning and retention process of students. Student curiosity, interest and career consideration is a direct result of educator influence. S.T.E.M. Magazine will focus on issues and resources to support educators and their students. Inspiring and fueling the creative process of curriculum presentation while also addressing the personal needs associated with the relentless pressures of instruction, testing preparation, classroom discipline and school district demands will be a high priority in every issue.

S.T.E.M. M









Wayne Carley Literary Contributors

Judy Willis MD.,M Ed Gulfstream

Miriam R. Hodesh


Mercer Engineering Research Center

Michael Robertson

TAG Education Collaborative

Amy Hudnall

Center of Innovation

University of Georgia Eric Sheninger Emilian Geczi, M.S. Keith Cerk, M.A., M.Div.

Subscriptions S.T.E.M. Magazine is provided at no cost to all educators and school administrators upon request. Simply contact S.T.E.M. Magazine at: S.T.E.M. Magazine Inc. 478.319.7177

All rights reserved. Copyright 2012

Growing our Future Workforce Miriam R. Hodesh Community Relations Specialist, Corporate Responsibility Department


he United States is seeing a shortage of students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (STEM) fields. This will make it difficult for industry to recruit the next wave of engineers, technicians and manufacturers. While student interest in STEM is declining, aerospace industry international sales are skyrocketing. Robust sales forecasts require a need not only for creative and skilled labor, but also a workforce that is culturally astute and multilingual. Gulfstream recognizes these trends and works to affect a change within our industry.


Students: Be creative and innovative. Explore your passions. Take advantage of interesting STEM classes, teachers and mentors who challenge you and extracurricular activities that motivate you to think big. At Gulfstream, we build the world’s best business jets. Almost any job you can think of is available within our company. We have employees who help us order and build parts. Other individuals create, design, sell and service the aircraft. Gulfstream is looking for future leaders to pursue career paths in accounting, engineering (design development, flight science, aircraft systems, flight and lab testing, completions, service, structural design), finance, information technology, interior design, human resources, manufacturing, marketing, operations and sales. Gulfstream’s more than 11,500 employees are located around the globe. Over the past year, Gulfstream employees have participated in education outreach initiatives impacting more than 11,000 K-12 students and teachers. Through classroom visits, Aviation Explorer Post, Youth Apprenticeship internships, facility tours for the local community and guest speaker presentations, Gulfstream has committed itself to giving students an opportunity to learn about the more than 1,200 different types of jobs within the company.

If you are on track to pursue college and/or graduate school – terrific! Look to Gulfstream for internship and college co-op opportunities online. If you are focused on the pursuit of a technical degree – awesome! Go to to learn about schools and obtaining an Aircraft and Powerplant license in order to work on aircraft.

Educators: We want to be a resource as you excite students about why STEM classroom study is important. Let us continue working together in an effort to spark student interest in these subjects. Gulfstream will co-host a STEM institute for teachers in Georgia. Please contact Gilda Lyon ( at the Georgia Department of Education to learn more about this opportunity.

Industry: We all look to our workforce to develop new technologies and innovations. Researchers and developers need to be encouraged at an early age in a creative environment. Our industry should make an effort to communicate needs with educators so that our expectations for students are clear.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Like us on facebook Follow us on Twitter - @gulfstreamaero YouTube – Gulfstream Aerospace channel

Writing Sprouts Conceptual Brain Networks

from the STEM of Math and Science By Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed.

Science and math are vital to our progress, yet our test scores on the international scales are not keeping pace globally. The US Department of Labor has projected that by 2014 there will be more than two million job openings in science, technology, and engineering, but according to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) international test score report, the US is lagging behind countries like Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland in STEM subjects. H.G. Wells cautioned, “Civilization is a race between disaster and education.� and it seems the government is heeding that advice with initiatives in motion to increase emphasis on these subjects. As STEM subjects get more emphasis, writing and the arts cannot become victims of that emphasis. It is also important not to narrow the focus to the rote memory test and to recognize the interdependence of science and math on a fully rounded curriculum. As we strive for students to develop creativity as innovators in STEM and all fields, it behooves us to consider the value of writing and the arts toward the achievement of these goals. In the past two decades, neuroscience and cognitive science research have provided increasing evidence correlating creativity with academic, social, and emotional intelligence. We also know more about the neural processing of the brain’s highest executive functions that direct judgment, critical analysis, emotional control, creative problem solving, highest cognition, and other skill sets, which are becoming increasingly valuable for all students, and essential for those who enter the STEM fields in 21st century.


Writing for the Math and Science Literacy As I’ve previously written about the value of embedding the arts throughout the curriculum [ art-for-joyful-learning/] the focus of this article is to describe how writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information in science and math. From the STEM program goals, “STEM literacy is also critical because it has a profound and growing impact on our day-to-day lives. It helps us make critical decisions about our health care, our finances and our retirement. It illuminates the ever more complex issues that govern the future of our democracy, and it reveals to us the beauty and power of the world we inhabit. A literate nation not only reads. It computes, investigates and innovates.” Writing brings more than literacy and communication advantages to STEM studies, and all academic pursuits. Through writing, students can increase their comfort with and success in understanding complex material, especially when the subject has unfamiliar concepts and subject specific vocabulary. Writing throughout the curriculum also increases the power of a literate nation to “read, compute, investigate, and innovate” and to participate more successfully in our democracy.

Writing: Just What the Doctor Orders for the Brain’s Successful Information Processing In terms of writing and the brain, there are multiple reasons for embedding writing throughout STEM courses. Writing promotes the brain’s attentive focus to class work and homework, promotes

long-term memory, illuminates patterns (possibly even “aha” moment insight!), includes all students as participants, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition. There is an involuntary information intake filter that determines what sensory input is accepted into the brain. Input must also pass through an emotional filter, the amygdala, the destination of that information. When stress is high the intake filter favors information selectively admits information related to perceived threat, virtually

mistakes as they build confidence, reveal gaps in foundational knowledge, share creative insights, and build their capacities to communicate their ideas and defend their opinions. Writing can include individual journaling, formal research-style formatted reports of student experimentation and data analysis, newspaper editorials about the evidence for environmental problems and a plan for intervention. Writing can be shared with varying degrees of scaffolding for students who need to build confidence, such as class blogs or WIKIs with code names known only by the teacher. Writing done at home, without time con-

“Fear......greatest sources of anxiety.” ignoring other sensory input. The high stress state also directs the amygdala switching station to conduct information to the lower, reactive brain, where long-term retrievable memories cannot be formed. In addition, the behavioral outputs of the lower brain are limited to fight (act out), flight (self-entertainment sometimes interpreted as ADHD), or freeze (zone out). Fear of making mistakes in front of classmates is one of the greatest sources of anxiety for students. Writing is an opportunity to lower threat and to reduce the stress that blocks passage through the amygdala to the reflective prefrontal cortex. Descriptive written responses to math or science questions and written predictions, hypotheses, and questions provides all students with the opportunity to actively participate in learning, receive timely feedback, reflect, revise, and risk making

straint and with access to the Internet and other resources, can lower the barriers, but not the bar. Students can then participate more confidently in class starting with reading their written responses, perhaps after the confidence-building of first sharing them with a partner. Written peer feedback on class WIKIs or blog offers the opportunity to reflect on the day’s learning, ask questions, or demonstrate accountability for the night’s homework to increase whole class level of preparation for the next day’s instruction. Through these shared written responses about content and concept students have opportunities to express creative hypotheses, alternative perspectives, and concerns about their understanding, with the low-risk option of peer anonymity. There is accountability and peer interaction, without the concern about mistakes that is so paralyzing to

many students during class time, and as students consider and define in writing their opinions, conclusions, and predictions, their brains construct concept networks. When learning is examined through shared writing, students are exposed to multiple approaches to solving problems (so important

in building the flexibility and open-minded approach to other cultures as the science, math, and technology world is indeed global) and have the chance to communicate using their own words. They build communication skills they will surely use in their collaborations now and in the future science and math communities they will enter.

It’s About Me! Not Just Someone Else’s Science and Math. Writing can also reduce the neural processing blockades that result from the stress of boredom; the most frequent reason high school dropouts give for leaving school. Specifically, they report that what they learn is not interesting or personally relevant. We know that there is increased information flow through the attention and emotional filters to the higher processing prefrontal cortex when learning incorporates personal interest and connects learning to real world issues and problems relevant to students. Writing can increase both personal relevance and confidence. Personal relevance comes from the nature of writing that provides opportunities for creativity and personal expression. Even when the facts of the math or science are not debatable, individual responses to the information are appropriate writing topics. When writing is incorporated in learning and assessment, there is increased opportunity to produce the ideal situation for active, attentive learning with collaboration, revision, and metacognition through personalization, and creativity. Regarding confidence, reminding students of previous successes promotes confidence as does providing them the opportunity to recognize progress over time. Written work – that includes assessments of science or math facts, procedures, theories, and projects, but also includes students’ written responses to both the learning itself and to their progress gives students more ways to recognize their

progress than do files of test grades. These can be maintained in computer files or portfolios and reviewed as evidence of successful, incremental progress with student opportunities for metacognition about strategies used for success.

Neurological Nourishment: The Write Stuff for Math, Science, and Brains. The construction of conceptual memory networks builds the most valuable neural architecture a brain owner can have. These networks serve as “nets” to catch and hold new input with similar patterns, and “work” when activated for creative transfer – use of the information learned in one context for application in a new context. (See-you can’t make corny word puns as easily with the spoken word.)

Concept networks are the valuable tools the brain uses in the highest orders of thinking. When the brain seeks to predict the best response, answer, solution to a problem or make a choice, the executive function control networks in the prefrontal cortex send out messages to the memory association areas, such as the hippocampus and memory storing cortex in each hemisphere, to activate stored prior knowledge memories that relate to the new situation. The more extensive the brain’s collection of memory networks, the more successful it will be in activating the best prior knowledge to predict the best responses, answers, choices and in using their cumulative background knowledge to respond to the new problem or opportunity.


Planning of instruction in math and science that includes writing can be part of neuro-logical unit construction that ideally is part of a spiraled curriculum that extends throughout the school years. As in Wiggins and McTighe backward planning described in their Understanding by Design books, goals considered from the outset can be planned into the unit. Writing provides a powerful venue to promote the development of concept networks when students have opportunities to recognize recurring patterns and activate prior knowledge related to a new topic. Units can be designed with authentic performance tasks and assessments that are personally engaging and call upon the brain’s processing through executive functions. Writing increases brain engagement throughout this process when it is planned to give students opportunities to respond personally to learning and to reflect, review, and revise.

Writing as Memory Cement and Concept Clue Memory bundles, such as Piaget described as schema, or category-related memory, hold information linked in circuits based on commonalities (such as similar sounds, visual images). The many varieties of writing can serve to guide the brain to recognize, construct, and extend its patterns – its bundles of neurons linked together because they have been used together repeatedly. Writing can illuminate sequential procedures that students need to learn in mathematics and science, from factoring an equation to the photosynthetic chemical process. Prior knowledge can be activated for newly related

information through mind maps, graphic organizers, and new learning can be added into visible and mental patterns when students write analogies and other comparisons.

.....increase the permanence. The neural activity or mental manipulation that transforms formulas, procedures, graphs, and statistical analyses into words represents the brain’s recognition of patterns. When this is also done in writing the facts, procedures, and observations are processed symbolically in the writing process – giving the memory another storage modality and truly illuminating the patterns for the brain to follow as it adds new learning to existing concept networks.

Concept Circuits Adopt “Factlettes” If new information is learned by repetitive drill, used repeatedly in the same way it is learned, the repeated activation of that isolated memory circuit promotes neuroplastic changes (increased dendrites, synapses, and insulating myelin around axons) that increase the permanence of that isolated piece of memory. However, this memory bundle will remain an isolated circuit that can only be activated by the stimuli through which it was constructed. For example, if the brain learns to connect the color red with apples and does not have experiences to develop the concept of red by guided experiences identifying shades of red, such as on fire trucks and crayons, it will not

have a neural network with which to identify new items as being red. In contrast, if the brain hears the name “red” applied to more items than just the apple, sees the color produced by a crayon identified as red, and reads the word “red” on a labeled picture of a rainbow, there are now multiple representations of “red” stored in the brain.

grouping of neurons. It is the electrical activity that flows through a circuit each time it is activated that stimulates the growth of more connecting dendrites and synapses and the greater durability of the axons through increasing thickness of their insulating myelin coats. These physical responses to activation turn a newly connected, extended memory

“The act of writing....promotes the extension and permanence of a memory circuit.” However, only when the brain is prompted to activate these separate circuits of “red” memories together, do they develop the neural connections (dendrites, synapses, axons) such that when red is perceived in a new object, there will be simultaneous mutual activation of this bundle of “red” memories. Through this pattern constructing process, links form among the separate “red” memory circuits each time they are activated together. With each repeated activation of the related memories, physical connections grow so they ultimately are physically linked into a larger circuit that “fires together” when something red is seen, visualized, or the word is heard or read. To turn these early physical links into a strong concept memory, it is then necessary for repeated prompts to activate the rudimentarily linkage into a strong neural network. This is how the process of neuroplasticity works. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s response to repeated electrical activation of

circuit into long-term memory.

Once established, long-term related memory networks are subsequently expanded and strengthened by repeated activation. This activation is what takes place with practice. The brain processes sensory information in specific lobes (occipital for visual, temporal for auditory, parietal for sensory). Information learned and practiced through different sensory modalities had duplicated storage in the sensory receptor cortex. These are connected such that when one memory is cued up, the others come on line. If a student sees an experiment, smells the chemical products, measures components, discusses the experiment there can be memories stored in the auditory, olfactory, kinesthetic, and verbal cortexes. The most effective practice for memory is the use of the newly linked neurons in other new ways than that in which the information was learned. Thus the act of transfer, such as occurs in writing with words about a scientific

observation or mathematical procedure, promotes the extension and permanence of a memory circuit.

When a sensory cue comes in to retrieve that memory, the increased number of storage locations gives rise to more powerful recall. The early research into creativity and the “Aha!” moment suggest that at the moment of a flash of insight or innovation, there is simultaneous communication from multiple memory storage regions throughout the cortex and the executive control centers in the prefrontal cortex. To summarize, a goal of learning is to con- struct conceptual, relational circuits of valuable, transferable knowledge. These start as bits of information that the brain adopts into existing related networks through the simultaneous activation of the new with the existing. This takes place through a process of pattern recognition, linking, and expanding. The brain seeks patterns (relationships, commonalities) in new sensory input and when these are recognized, the new input links with the existing pattern and is consolidated into that related existing memory network. This is the “firing together”.

Dr. Judy Willis is an authority on brain research regarding learning and the brain. With the unique background as both a neurologist and classroom teacher, she writes extensively for professional educational journals and has written six books about applying the mind, brain, and education research to classroom teaching strategies, including an ASCD top seller, Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and master’s of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years. Currently, Dr. Willis gives neuroeducation presentations, and conducts professional development workshops nationally and internationally about educational strategies correlated with neuroscience research.

Game-Based Learning and

S.T.E.M. Education

“How incorporating games in the classroom can motivate and engage millennial students�.

STEM education needs help The American education system faces a myriad of challenges; one of the most troubling is the lack of student interest in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects. America has consistently been a powerhouse of innovation that has produced great modern marvels such as the light bulb, the assembly line, and the space shuttle. The great innovators of this country have served as a propelling force behind the advancement of technology, but unfortunately the U.S. is falling behind our foreign counterparts. In 2010, over 34% of the science and engineering Ph.D’s earned in the United States were awarded to non-U.S. citizens/ temporary visa holders (1). In the coming decades, without some serious change, American companies will face a deficit of domestic talent in STEM subject matter areas. This scarcity of domestic technical talent will leave many highly skilled positions unfilled by American workers. This means no one to monitor our nuclear power plants,

no one to design rockets to Mars, and no one to create life saving technologies for our armed service members. Instead, we will have to look abroad for our technical talent, which will lead to higher cost of service and economic vulnerability. The federal government recognizes that America must overcome the challenge of a shrinking talent pool and has been attempting to improve the situation by earmarking money for STEM education support grants. Through organizations like the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Education, the federal government invested $3.4 billion into STEM education initiatives in 2010 (2). Unfortunately, this amount is a mere 0.3% of the $1.1 trillion that the United States government spent on education in FY 2010, and only one third of that amount went to K-12 education initiatives.


Game-based learning as a way to engage students in a technology saturated society Game-based learning, or GBL, is a method for augmenting education by integrating traditional instructional strategies with educational games. Technologies like smartphones, tablets, and social media have shifted the paradigm in which today’s educators must practice their craft. Vicki L. Phillips, who serves as the director of education at College Ready, made the following comment when speaking about new instructional tools such as GBL applications, “… technology has generally been placed on top of antiquated models. These new cutting-edge applications have the potential to inspire students and engage them in the way they naturally learn...”(3). Our infatuation with cellphones, text messaging, apps, and the emerging social web provide a constant stream of distracting stimuli that present a challenge for educators and instructional designers. Before teachers can implement mobile technologies in the classroom, developers must create ways for

sponsored by the nonprofit group Project Tomorrow, noted “students want to use mobile devices to look up information on the Internet, communicate with classmates, receive alerts about homework and tests, and work on projects with classmates”(4). The modern education environment is much different thanks to the widespread availability of information and facts. If students can get the information and facts from new technologies, then that leaves more time for teachers to facilitate individual students’ self directed learning. A 2010 evaluation report on Project K-Nect, sponsored by Qualcomm, reported that teachers are able to focus “...more on facilitation and less on instruction...”(4) when students are given mobile devices that are incorporated into the instructional pedagogy. Furthermore, teachers reported higher levels of student engagement with peers and instructors, and improved student motivation. By augmenting classes with games and mobile technology, educators can provide students with “a teacher in their pocket”(4). This type of learning revolution is not just a shift

“Let my playing be my learning and my learning be my playing.” Johan Huizinga

instructors to limit their functionalities based upon the learning task at hand. Overcoming the persistent digital distraction, and successfully incorporating mobile devices in the classroom, lies firmly in the ability of software designers to limit the functionality of mobile technologies to those functions necessary in a classroom environment. By addressing this issue first, and teacher training second, developers can empower teachers to reach out to their students using the technologies that students are accustomed to. Project Speak Up,

towards technology and the Internet, but it is a shift in how teachers view games in the classroom. By definition, games are activities meant for diversion or amusement, but games may have more in common with instructional design than one thinks. The 5th edition of Morrision, Ross, and Kemp’s Defining Effective Instruction(5) identifies critical components necessary in effective instruction: Content Sequencing, Instructional Objectives, Evaluation Instruments, and Instructional Strategies. When compared to Bowman’s description of the game Pac-man as “an action system where

skills and challenges are progressively balanced, goals are clear, feedback is immediate, and relevant stimuli can be differentiated from irrelevant stimuli”(6) the connection between successful games and instructional design can be seen. By connecting these dots it is possible to see how GBL has the potential to increase student motivation, encourage engagement, and provide students with self-directed learning opportunities.

Augmenting the classroom with gamebased learning Game-based learning techniques are being used in education right now, and with some promising results. In 2006, the University of Michigan conducted a research study in two third grade classrooms at Bach Elementary in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The goal of the study was to find out if students could learn math facts on a Gameboy more efficiently than students employing more traditional methods like flash cards. One of the major outcomes from the five-week study was that low-achieving students using the handheld device performed 11% better than the flash card group (8). A case study where an off-the-shelf game, Civilization III, was used to teach history and geography showed that 25% of the students (particularly academic underachievers) loved playing the game, and thought it was a “perfect” way to learn history, and considered the experience a highlight of their school year (7). Students in the case study ended up asking questions about the origin of writing, language, and resource consumption. These questions stemmed from the students’ self-directed exploration of the “Civilopedia,” an encyclopedia resource built into the game. As a result of self-directed learning using GBL, underachieving students were now proposing complex, open-ended questions to their teacher. It is exactly this type of learning that supports critical thinking in our students. That is

why GBL is a prime candidate for inclusion in STEM subjects. Game-based learning can easily augment a project based learning pedagogy that focuses on self-directed activities. Students can be provided with a problem to solve, investigate the problem through self-directed learning in a GBL setting, and then be pushed to think critically about what they have learned. Critical thinking is necessary to promote STEM education because the principles, concepts, and processes inherent in STEM subjects require students to solve complex problems with a unique set of variables in an unfamiliar environment. Incorporating GBL into STEM curriculum can provide students with a “teacher in their pocket”, improve student motivation and engagement, raise achievement, and promote critical thinking skills.

Reflections If we want to teach our students to be capable of the critical thinking process then it is necessary to provide them with the tools to pursue self-directed learning. GBL can accomplish this goal by harnessing the captivating nature of games to help make education as compelling as video games or to at least make addicting video games educational.

multiple proposals for open-source educational games and are pursuing crowd-source funding. This method allows us fto do two things. First, we help young instructional designers actualize their ideas through project based learning, and, secondly, we ensure the education tools we help create are freely available to all those that need them. While GBL implementation has been limited mostly to research initiatives, the support for these programs has seen a dramatic increase from the private sector. As recently as April of 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation pledged $20 million dollars to support the development of “innovative grants to develop new teaching and learning tools” (3). Of this total, $7.7 million dollars has been specifically pledged to the development of GBL applications. In the official press release for the foundation, spokeswoman Phillips, stated that “Teachers are telling us what they want, and we are listening,” when referring to the goals of the funding initiative. Mercer Engineering Research Center (MERC) is the applied research branch of the Mercer University School of Engineering and remains an operating unit of the university. From the very beginning, we have been intimately involved with both engineering and education. We have actively served as a non-partisan provider of software, aerospace, electrical, and mechanical engineering support to the defense industry and private enterprise. Our status as a non-profit organization means we are interested only in solving customer problems. Because of our background and our future needs, we have a vested interest in the future of STEM education and aim to leverage our skills in the technology and engineering fields to help educators and students. In order to support STEM education, we have started a partnership program with the Technical Communication Program (TCO) at Mercer University to develop proposals or game-based learning concepts. Together with the students, we have created

As an organization promoting technology in STEM, we want to expand our partnership with the educator community to create fun games with an instructional purpose. We are always searching for new ideas and insights from teachers, administrators, and instructional designers, so feel free to contact us with your ideas at info@merc-mercer. org. With your help, we can create technology that best serves the needs of both students and educators.

Resources 1.Fiegener, K., Mark. (2011). Numbers of Doctorates Awarded in theUnited States Declined in 2010.National Science Foundation, 12(303), 1-5. Retrieved from: http:// 2. National Science and Technology Council. (2012). Coordinating Federal Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)Education Investments: Progress Report. Retrieved from: 3. Gates Foundation. (2011). Gates Foundation Announces Portfolio ofInnovative Grants to Develop New Teaching and Learning Tools thatSupport Teachers and Help Students. Retrieved from: 4. Project Tomorrow. (2010). Students Leverage the Power of Mobile Devices Through the Project K-Nect Mobile Learning Initiative in OnslowCounty. Retrieved from: 5. Morrison, R., Gary, Ross, M., Steven, Kemp, E., Jerrold. (2007)Designing Effective Instruction (5 ed.). John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 6. Bowman, R. F. (1982). A PAC-Man Theory of Motivation.TacticalImplications for Classroom Instruction. Educational Technology 22(9),14-17. 7. Squire, K. (2005). Changing the Game: What Happens when Video Games Enter the Classroom?. Innovate: Journal Of Online Education, 1(6). 8. Go Know Learning. (2006). Scientifically-Based Research Snapshot:Math Skills. Retrieved from: http://bit. ly/PQAk6I

The need for Some refer to teaching as a calling; a unique life purpose not for the faint of heart…..a truly inspired profession. Across America, teacher turnover rates are as high as 20% or more and it is not unusual to see teachers dropping out faster than students. Why are teachers quitting their chosen profession so often and so soon? Forty six percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years bringing attrition costs to approximately 7.3 billion dollars. Why is it becoming so difficult to keep motivated and inspired educators who are willing to make a career long commitment to the youth of America? These questions need to be addressed and coincidentally may have a common answer. Teaching is not what it used to be. Somehow, slowly but incessantly over decades, the role of teacher has become a disciplinarian, a social worker, a crisis management

re-inspiration By Wayne Carley

advisor, a therapist, a surrogate parent……. a scapegoat. Most educators are not trained in these social disciplines and didn’t expect to be saddled with them. These distractions to effective teaching opportunities surely have an impact on the learning environment, student and teacher moral, focus and retention. It seems clear that factors like these can only have a negative impact on a teacher’s enthusiasm. Over time, this daily drain on motivation and inspiration can only impede the expectation for excellence we gauge by test results. Our teaching environment is complex and the dysfunction of the American education system may not be improved in our lifetime. This article alone cannot fix the problems you face at school or change the way things are done in your district, but it can offer hope to those who chose teaching as their vocation, rooted in a passion for knowledge and the opportunity to inspire.


How do we get past just holding it together verses being an inspiration? Teachers cite lack of planning time, workload, and lack of influence over school policy among other reasons for their decision to leave the profession or transfer schools. The last 75 teachers I have personally asked cite the lack of control and classroom discipline issues to be in their top 3 reasons for personal dissatisfaction. Effective learning…..that’s the real goal isn’t it? Effectiveness for any endeavor begins with inspiration; inspiration to succeed, to accomplish, to reach out and grab that which gives us satisfaction and joy. For the educator, that satisfaction is the success and inspiration that grows in the hearts and minds of their students during the short time we have them. The overwhelming burdens and conflicts of the modern classroom environment could be a primary cause of dampened flames of inspiration in the souls of our educators. If you chose teaching because of perceived job security or ease of opportunity, inspiration was never your motive obviously. That doesn’t mean those individuals would not be adequate educators, but probably not inspiring ones. Sports organizations love to get “back to basics”, especially on the heels of defeat, knowing full well that the basics are the key to building any stable performance expectations. That being true, what are the “basics” of an effective, satisfied and happy educator? I believe the foundational basic to be personal inspiration. Wasn’t it that personal inspiration that motivated us to enter the field of education to start with? Getting re-inspired is no small challenge and for some it may not even be possible, but if my choices are quitting teaching or giving it another shot, I choose the latter.

By definition inspiration is “….to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence….to breathe into.” What first inspired you to want to teach? Speaking for myself, it was a passion for my chosen subject of study and the strong desire to pass on that passion on to my students…to see them get as excited about it as I was. Aviation education is my chosen field and the love of flight is at the heart of my curriculum. When I’m overwhelmed with the politics, the constraints of administration and the behavior of the students this week, I get back in the air…at least mentally. I recall my first solo flight and how scared to death I was, but how thrilling if felt to be flying and the relief of that first landing. I was hooked for life and I wanted everyone to experience that. Understanding everything about the physics of flight, the complexities of navigation, communications and aerodynamics had become a real passion. Imparting this knowledge to those who would listen became deeply satisfying on many levels. Honestly evaluate your attitude: Attitude is a person’s feeling or emotion toward a situation or fact…your mental outlook on your circumstances; one’s mood, temperament, or viewpoint. We tend to think that there are only two kinds of attitudes—positive and negative; but really there are many. Here are just a few examples that we might experience daily: friendly or reserved, confident or insecure, cheerful or depressing, compassionate or callous, determined or indecisive, peaceful or destructive, appreciative or ungrateful. It’s easy to see that all can be classified as either positive or negative individually and that they will truly identify who you are at that moment. Your attitude is a choice and that choice is

completely within your control. The choices you make daily will influence every aspect of your life. Consider looking at what you’re satisfied with at school and not what you’re dissatisfied with. If you are going through a difficult period, remember your attitude can make your life even worse or it can be the catalyst to turning your life around. Usually our attitude is transparent to our students. Our emotional transparency either aggravates the atmosphere or energizes it. Reconnect: Momentarily set aside all the dissatisfactions you’re experiencing with your teaching career, conflicts with administration, parents or frustrations in the classroom and go back to the root of your passion. What is it about your chosen subject that you loved and couldn’t get enough of? Focus on that for a time and give it some attention. Reconnect with that knowledge and saturate yourself in it once more.

pleasures. The opportunity to stand before thousands of students and teachers annually to share this pleasure and influence them is an honor and privilege. Become curious once more: Curiosity is an emotion related to natural inquisitive behavior. Renewed curiosity is the fuel for your learning, exploration, creativity and yes….inspiration. Encouraging our students to be curious may be one of the most important gifts we offer and certainly of tremendous value to ourselves as teachers. No, curiosity did not kill the cat, but it did ignite the industrial age, advances in technology, medicine and space exploration. What are you most curious about? Ok…go for it. As the bright light of personal inspiration grows in you as before, the refreshing joy of imparting knowledge rises to the surface before the eyes of

“Inspire me to love learning and learning will become a lifelong love.” This process of reconnecting can be slow and could take some time, but benefits can be seen after just a weekend of serious attention. There is so much new information available about our chosen field that we will always be challenged with new interesting and exciting revelations. We want to inspire our students to love knowledge: “Awareness of such information as would cause a reasonable person to inquire further”. I admit to having a love affair with learning. With the assistance of Google and my laptop, the universe is at my fingertips. There is no question in my mind that I am learning more, faster, than at any time previously in my 55 years. I can honestly say that my joy and satisfaction in exploring the realms of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is one of my greatest

your students. As your students witness the rebirth of your curiosity and the inspiration within your heart shown as a visible enthusiasm, how could they not help but be influenced to explore this satisfying pursuit as well? I’ve seen it…’s real. If there can be any encouragement for your plight, it may be that the passion for learning and inspiring others can be reignited in you through a reconnecting to that emotional behavior of curiosity that leads to inspiration. Learn, teach, influence and inspire; the results remain in the hands of the young people before you. Ultimately, the love of learning is their responsibility. Your love of learning is your responsibility.

By Michael Robertson TAG Education Collaborative

These rankings come during a time when many Americans struggle to find jobs and yet openings are on the rise in technologyrelated fields. In Georgia alone, according to the June 2011 Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)/Skillproof IT Job Trends report, there were more than 5,300 open technology positions. Yet many Georgia technology companies say that, of the top five most critical positions to fill, three out of those five are also the most difficult for which to find candidates. There is a very real need to drive interest in the next generation workforce for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). And it is important for all teachers, not just those teaching STEM subjects, to generate awareness and a connection between seemingly disparate topics, such as English and engineering.


Ask a professional in the communications field why they chose to go into that area and you might get the witty response, “well it’s because I can’t do math.” Though he or she may be joking, the truth is, as a nation, we are falling far behind other countries in math and science. And the numbers are there to prove it. Results from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment ranked American 15-year-olds 21st in science and 25th in math when compared to their peers around the world.


Building Connections The connection between Shakespeare and science may seem as far apart as the relationship between a basketball player and lead singer of a grunge band, but the synergies are there. Just as many famous athletes have moonlighted as musicians and many well-known musicians have backgrounds in sports, the study of Shakespeare has lessons in chemistry and technology. Though perhaps considered simple by today’s standards, plays staged during the Elizabethan times often incorporated the latest advances in science and technology to make actors disappear and reappear through trap doors and “igniting” cannons. And this presents a great opportunity to bring the play to life through lessons that blur the lines between literature and STEM. Exploring subjects through multiple lenses helps students connect the dots and better interpret how subject matter taught in school can be applied to real life. Especially in a day and age when information and interactive tools are at our fingertips, it is important to move away from simply using tactics such as memorization and assigned readings and create deeper connection between the student and the lesson. Therefore, what was once a class in writing styles used by Elizabethan playwrights could suddenly become an exploration and comparison of the original production of “Romeo and Juliette” and the Hollywood versions on the market today. The lesson could include elements of science, such as the students creating their own special effects using basic chemistry, or be taught with technology, giving students a chance to create

their own Shakespeare film using video cameras and online editing software. A teacher does not have to be an expert in STEM subjects to bring their lessons to life. And, fortunately, many resources exist today to make the incorporation of those lessons a little easier.

Technology in the Classroom The first, and perhaps most obvious, is the Internet. Students today have grown up with technology at their fingertips. This is a generation who can play “Angry Birds” on their mobile devices for hours, but quickly lose interest when forced to sit through a lesson taught entirely through text books and overhead projectors. One of the simplest ways to incorporate STEM lessons is to tap into resources that already exist online. The Pew Internet Project reported, “the Internet is an important element in the overall educational experience of many teenagers.” It went on to note that 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet. Take the PBS e² Design series for example. The series of videos focuses on the pioneers and innovators in sustainable architecture and how the work they are doing is making environmental and social changes. Because the series features compelling stories from around the globe, students are not only exposed to architecture and engineering, they also get an opportunity to learn about new cultures and countries. In addition, the web

site offers a number of resources and various projects to extend the lessons learned in the videos. So now a language or social studies teacher can easily expose students to STEM while still covering the material required in the curriculum.

Another opportunity to further engage students and expose them to STEM lessons is to bring online, educational games into the classroom or even have the students develop their own games or applications around specific subject matter. Programs, such as the Technology Association of Georgia’s Education Collaborative (TAG-Ed) Web Challenge, even provide students the opportunity to compete and win scholarship money by developing web-based applications that can teach fellow students STEM-related subjects. And, by encouraging students to develop games or applications, they are exposed to what they can do with knowledge in areas such as technology. Even if the intention is there, however, not all schools may have the resources to provide a computer for every student. There are approximately 1.65 million public school students throughout the state of Georgia; some in districts with unlimited resources and others in areas that struggle to make ends meet. This is where organizations, such as CFY (a national nonprofit with an Atlanta chapter) can help teachers and parents in lower income areas harness the power of digital learning both in and beyond the classroom. CFY not only provides computers for their students, it also offers training for students, teachers and parents and an online learning platform (

with free educational resources and tools that increase student engagement and helps teachers individualize and extend learning. And online learning is beneficial for students of all backgrounds. Teachers understand that students, particularly in low-income schools, need additional learning time and digital learning activities provide a cost-effective way for doing so. According to CFY, digital learning activities offer students the ability to be self-directed learners – something critical for college readiness. It also provides parents of all backgrounds a way to become more engaged in their child’s learning without needing to be experts in particular subject areas. The tools and resources exist to better expose students to STEM, but it’s up to the schools and teachers to fully leverage them.

Beyond the Classroom Even with the best the Internet has to offer, it’s hard to beat real-life examples and handson experiences to drive home the lessons of STEM. Children, especially girls, look up to adults in their lives as source of inspiration, so exposing them to professionals at work in careers that use lessons learned from STEM can be a great opportunity to excite students about what their futures could hold. This includes professionals in perhaps obviously related fields, such as architects and scientists, to perhaps not so obvious fields, such as journalism or advertising. Women in Technology’s (WIT) Girls Get IT is one resource that collaborates with the Georgia business community to inspire girls in middle and high school to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Teachers of all subjects can benefit from the program as Girls Get IT can bring speakers and panelists to the classroom, connecting girls with women who are working in a variety of technology and tech-enabled fields. “We’ve started offering the program for students as young as 5th grade because you really need to capture them at all ages,” said Heather Rocker, executive director of WIT. “Students can come to these programs not necessarily knowing that they want to be technology oriented. They might say, ‘I want to be a dentist or journalist’ and they can learn how technology plays into those careers in ways they may not even realize.” Finally, after school programs, such as the Georgia FIRST (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) Program

provide teachers an opportunity to supplement the materials in their curriculum with real-life, hands-on, S.T.E.M. related experiences. Through Georgia FIRST, students get the opportunity to work in teams to build and compete with robots in various challenges touching science, technology, engineering, marketing, website design, 3D animation, communications and more. Teachers from all backgrounds can serve as coaches for the students and, because the program is multifaceted, students are able to apply lessons learned in everything from science and math to creative writing and foreign languages. “Getting involved with a program like this is a game changer for students,” said Connie Haynes, director of Georgia FIRST. “Not only can it reinforce what a child wants to do when they grow up or expose them to new career options, it also inspires students to become thinkers and leaders. We encourage teachers of all subject matters to consider getting involved. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to see a transformation in kids you might never have thought would be possible.”

The Future At the end of the day, some STEM lessons need subject-matter experts and this is where virtual learning can bridge the gap for students needing specific knowledge or credits to pursue specific universities or degree programs. Whether used by a teacher to bring subjectmatter experts into the classroom via webcast, or a class taught entirely online, virtual learning is arguably one of the next phases in the evolution in the education system.

“There are benefits to brick and mortar classroom learning that cannot easily be replicated by a completely virtual experience, such as socialization with peers,” said Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. “But for students looking to supplement the classes offered at their own schools or for students who need a flexible alternative to the classroom, virtual learning could be the key for retaining and educating the next-generation workforce.” McCutchen continued, “technology offers us the opportunity to overcome the challenge of teaching to the ‘bored and bewildered.” And for the future of this generation of students and the competitiveness of our country, that could make all the difference.”

____________________________________ Resources: Georgia Virtual School: First Robotics: TAG Education Collaborative: Girls Get IT: girls-get-it/program-overview Computers for Youth:

Please Keep Up It’s common knowledge that technology is moving at lightning speeds and a year from now much of our daily computer software and hardware applications will be outdated. One unique situation applies to the middle aged baby boomers, many of whom are educators, who by nature seem to be slowing down in the learning process as it applies to technology. As mid-life approaches for many, the gradual reduction in our interest to learn and apply the “new” takes on unique risks that have not been a factor for past generations. It is true that “life-long” learning has always been encouraged and considered a healthy hobby for intellectual stimulation. What is different now with our struggling economy,

the expectation of longer careers, and the reality of a later retirement age is the realization that we need to remain marketable as employees and viable as contributors to our economy within the workforce.

I recall thinking soon after my college graduation, “I had finally finished the learning process” required to be successful in the workplace. Twenty five or thirty years ago that may have been true, but no longer. Hardly a week goes by now that I am not required to learn a new software application, whether it is as simple as Twitter, on-line banking, Facebook or a tax program, or more complicated like a computer hardware upgrade, video conferencing or logistics digital integration for my new client account.


As educators, we are under constant pressure to present the well defined curriculum in preparation for testing and performance evaluation. This highly walled directive to teaching does not leave much room for personal discovery and exploration in or out of the classroom. By the time we are done addressing those guidelines required by the state and local district, our brains are toast and the thought of continued investigation of facts and theories on our own time may not seem pleasurable. There is a huge difference between learning out of desire and learning by force. State performance standards are here to stay of course, but why we learn or if we learn remains in our control.

technology applications for modern adults is a recipe for career and financial disaster. Imagine being fifty five years old, losing your job and being unemployable due to your lack of technological proficiency. Scary is an understatement, but this is our new reality if we decide to be complacent intellectually.

“Well, I just can’t afford to stay current”. You cannot afford not to. Since we are using favorite quotes, here is another... “Pay me now or pay me later”. Falling behind technologically will cost so much more professionally and intellectually later than keeping up now. As educators and leaders, we are compelled to stay one step ahead of our students. Once our pupils pass us technologically, it

“To be marketable employees at any age, for any company, we have to keep up.” Herein lays the rub. To be marketable employees of any age, for any company, we have to keep up. We have to learn the new marketing software, how to Tweet, how to Skype, how to track product and use logistics software. We need to get the newest phone or Blackberry, get on-line remotely, update our laptop or tablet and all the new terminology that goes with it. “Resistance is futile”, to quote a science fiction series. One of my favorite phrases has always been “you snooze, you lose”. These two quotes have never been truer. It is your prerogative of course to be in denial and just say no to the process, but much like gaining too much weight, you eventually get to a point where you’re so far behind, you’ll never catch up. Falling behind in

becomes very difficult to lead, teach and inspire them effectively. If we are perceived as dinosaurs or antiques, we have lost our edge as examples to be followed. We have also lost our value and marketability at our current job and to the workforce as a whole.

Let us agree on this point…..”we have to keep up”. So how do we accomplish this? For some it is baby steps….but steps none the less. Here are a few musts:

1. Become and or remain proficient on the computer. Use a new program or application that is already provided on your computer. It’s amazing how many there are that we don’t use. Be sure and keep your typing skills fresh for increased productivity. If you are looking at the keys, it’s practice time.

2. Speed up your connections if necessary. Is your internet or computer too slow? If your computer is more than 5 years old, you are really due for an upgrade. Windows 7 is a breeze and you will enjoy the reliability. Think about calling your internet provider and bumping it up a notch. A little more speed increases productivity as well as enthusiasm.

3. Be competent in the use of E-mail, social media and electronic communications in general. I’ve had a Facebook page for a few years and I was amazed at how many people from my past found me and reconnected. It is very easy to use, even for a novice, and you can keep it as private as you wish. Social media is an easy and affordable way to stay closer to family and friends. The availability of visual communications through Skype or Facetime is truly revolutionary for the average computer user and may not cost anything at all.

4. Stay current with an understanding of recent technology breakthroughs, even if you don’t buy it or use it right now. It doesn’t cost anything to read about new technology or have a better understanding about recent advances that will surely come your way.......eventually. One technology that most everyone uses is the cell phone of course. Although new models come out much more often than necessary, you may want to consider an upgrade if it’s been a few years. Recently I was pushed to get a new Blackberry which I resisted for a short time, but now that I’m a user, it’s hard to remember the old tech.

5. Learn something new every week, if not more often, to stimulate your mind and selfesteem. Make a conscious decision to learn something new every week, explore, research and enjoy these new technology applications. Every time you learn a new APP (application) or new technical terminology, you’re falling behind slower. To be perfectly honest, keeping up with current technology is a big job, and falling behind slower may be the best we can hope for. Industry is moving so fast in so many different directions, keeping up with applications that affect your career directly should certainly be a priority. If you can make progress as it applies to your job, it’s a win, win for you.

6. Challenge yourself. I couldn’t walk when I was born....go figure. Fact is, we’ve been challenging ourselves most of our life. Why should that change?


Successes in life are usually a result of persistance....setting a goal and acquiring the necessary skills or knowledge to make that goal a reality. Persistence is not stopping until it is a reality. Be persistent in your thirst to accomplish mentally and challenge yourself to embrace this new world of technology to be successful in your every endeavor. With the advent of search engines like Google, I have become more inquisitive than ever since I can have the instant gratification of an answer immediately. Interestingly, the more often I get that instant gratification, the more often I ask questions. As that cycle continues, I find that I stay ahead of the curve and up to speed with the “new”.

7. Think again If you think you are too old to learn new skills - think again. New research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows that training re-ignites key areas of the brain, offsetting some age-related declines and boosting performance. Recently I visited my parents, now in their late 70’s and replaced their dial-up internet connection with high speed, wireless home network and HDMI connections to their HD television. Within a matter of a few hours, they were successfully using Netflix, Facebook and their E mail account. I left plenty of sticky notes for their reference of course, but the point is, they decided to try and were successful in joining the 21st Century technologically. The changes to their reality were evident within a day and the boost to their

self-esteem is priceless. In conclusion, the obvious benefits of “keeping up” are effective intellectual leadership in the classroom, the personal gratification of knowledge acquisition, improved self-esteem, continued value as an employee and the mental stimulation that has its own list of health benefits. In general, “keeping up” is a decision of the will. Decide to learn and it will be so.

Wayne Carley Publisher

An Open Letter to Principals: Four Leadership Strategies for Every Year BY ERIC SHENINGER

As the calendar turns quickly, school leaders across the country are meticulously planning for coming years. This process has become more difficult as mounting challenges such as budget cuts and what seems like a relentless attack on the profession of education have taken their toll on staff morale. With this being said, quality leadership becomes even more essential in order to cultivate a school culture whose primary focus is on the learning and achievement of each and every student.

Strategy One: Make No Excuses Success in this endeavor relies on us to take a no-excuse attitude. Ask yourself this: What am I prepared to do to improve all facets of my school? How will I accomplish more with less? Think and reflect upon the ways to accomplish the goals you set as opposed to the challenges, roadblocks, and push-back you will experience. These are all common complications that arise during the change process and should not be used as excuses not to push forward.

We must be the pillars of our respective institutions and focus on solutions rather than problems. Succumbing to the negative rhetoric, abiding by the status quo, and having a bunker mentality will do nothing to initiate needed changes in our building to improve teaching and learning. Each day we are afforded an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of our students through our role as education leaders. Our passion for helping all students learn and assisting staff in their growth should be the driving motivational force to make our schools the best they can be, regardless of the obstacles. Everything is changing -- the world, learners, job market, technology, access to information -- the sad reality though is that schools are not. We need to be catalysts to drive this change! Tip: Meet with your administrative team and teacher leaders throughout the school year to identify issues where excuses routinely arise. Begin to map out collective responses focusing on positive solutions to these problems.


Strategy Two: Model a Vision for Excellence Begin by articulating a clear vision to your staff. The consensus has to be that every student can and should learn. Getting your entire staff to embrace this concept is at the heart of effective leadership. I prefer to use the word “embrace” rather than “buy-in” -- a more commonly used word synonymous with change efforts. We should not be trying to sell our staffs on pedagogical techniques and other initiatives that will better prepare our students for success once they graduate. In order to promote the embracing of new ideas, strategies, and techniques we need to collaboratively work with staff to transform traditional classroom environments into vibrant learning communities where all students are authentically engaged. Tip: Engage your staff in a brainstorming session during the first faculty meeting in order to develop a collective vision on how to transform the school for the betterment of all students.

Strategy Three: Embrace 21st Century Pedagogy and Curriculum A vision begins with talk, but will only become reality with action. As society evolves due to advances in technology, we as principals must ensure that instruction follows suit or we run the risk of our schools becoming irrelevant. By irrelevant I am referring to our ability to prepare students with the skills to think critically, solve problems, demonstrate learning through creation, and compete in a global society. As instructional leaders, it is our primary

responsibility to observe and evaluate instruction. With this comes the responsibility to ensure that teachers are provided the freedom to take risks, knowledge of effective practices, resources to make it happen, and flexibility to incorporate innovative teaching strategies. With these parameters in place, principals must then be able to consistently identify, foster, support, and promote 21st century pedagogy. Inherent within this shift is the need to reevaluate the curriculum as the real-time web and information age present new challenges to instruction and student engagement. The time is now to lay the foundation to ensure that our students evolve into critical consumers of content, understand the importance of digital citizenship, as well as possess the ability to create, analyze, and interpret an array of media messages. Tip: Start the year off by gathering key stakeholders to collaboratively revise your curriculum to emphasize essential skills necessary for today’s learners to excel beyond your walls.

Strategy Four: Breathe Life Into Professional Development Most teachers cringe when they hear the words “professional development” and rightfully so. The traditional model utilized by many schools forces educators into structured silos based solely on district and school goals while ignoring staff interests and passions. PD can be inspiring and fun when people are free to follow these interests and

Technological, Information and Media Fluencies Thinking Skills

Contextually build

develop Transparently



21st Century Pedagogy







Problem Solving Project Based Learning

develop their own support communities.

Tip: If you thirst for an innovative culture focused on student achievement, begin the process of transitioning to Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s). To take it a step further, model and encourage your staff to form their own Personal Learning Network (PLN). Then step back, give up some control, and watch your staff thrive as their passion fuels a transformation of the teaching and learning culture at your school.


How To Increase Diversity Participation In The S.T.E.M. Sector By Emilian Geczi, M.S.| Keith Cerk, M.A., M.Div.


ver the next decade, employment in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sector is expected to grow at a significantly higher rate than in the overall job market. This projected growth represents an exciting opportunity for our youth, but conveying excitement about a STEM career to our children is not always easy. Ethnic minority, female, and low-income students are particularly disengaged from STEM-related learning, relative to the school population at large (1). Research shows that the great majority of adults who are active in the environmental science, engineering, and advocacy fields had formative outdoor experiences during childhood or had role models who directed

Programs that introduce children of diverse backgrounds to the outdoors provide anecdotal evidence that exploring the sights, textures, smells, tastes, and sounds of the environment can combine fun and learning in a way that makes a lasting impression.

Jacqueline, an eleven-year-old who moved to the U.S. with her family from abroad, was one of 10 students who enrolled in a summer program organized in 2008 by the First Baptist Church of Waukegan, IL, in partnership with several public and private organizations. The program allowed students to explore their neighborhood’s natural resources and meet scientists who make their living turning stones, counting birds, sampling water, or engaging in other activities that students themselves were undertaking.

“Outdoor education combines fun with life-long learning” their attention to the environment (2). Finding ways to connect our children – irrespective of social background – with the outdoors and with people who are passionate about the environment may therefore represent a key strategy in opening up a world of career opportunities for them. Connecting kids with nature not only contributes to their physical, social, and emotional development (3), but it may also instill in them the enthusiasm to pursue a career in science or in another STEM field.

Jacqueline became fascinated with the American Toad and ended up presenting various facts and research findings about the species to other students. Later in the summer, Jacqueline paid a visit to the program coordinator and, after chatting about her experiences, stated her intention to become a paleontologist. Outdoor exploration can ignite passion for subjects like science and math. In the process, college and career aspirations can become a reality for children who otherwise might have never considered a scientific field.

Whenever possible, parents should take their children outside and allow them to become their own guides. • Unstructured time spent outdoors can help children develop interests and sensibilities that will last a lifetime. • Families can also engage in outdoor activities, such as gardening or fishing, that affirm the passion and skills of their adult members. • Kids may very well catch the spirit and the zeal from their parents. • Participating in outdoor recreation programs offered through local agencies and organizations can supplement these family activities by exposing children to conservation scientists and other professionals who are enthusiastic about their work.

Outdoor youth programs delivered through local schools can be especially effective in communicating the importance of science and math to students of varied backgrounds. In the Chicago region, more than 6,000 pub-

lic school students participate every year in the Mighty Acorns program, which takes them on three field trip experiences annually to a nearby public resource. Students have an opportunity to engage in conservation actions such as collecting seeds and planting seedlings in addition to exploring the outdoors on their own. Staff members are consistently amazed at how passionately children perform their work when entrusted to make a positive difference on the land. Trusting the child’s lead in the outdoors and nourishing his or her spirit of discovery, together with finding opportunities to interact with people who are passionate about the environment, may constitute a set of actions that go a long way toward cultivating the next generation of STEM professionals.

References 1. U.S. Department of Labor [USDL]. (2007). The STEM workforce challenge: 2. Chawla, L. (1999). Life paths into effective environmental action. Journal of Environmental Education, 31, 15-27. 3. Burdette, H.L.. & Whitaker, R.C. (2005). Resurrecting free play in young children. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 159, 46-50.


The importance of S.T.E.M. beyond the classroom by Amy Hudnall Georgia Center for Innovation

The need for STEM literacy extends far beyond the classroom where you probably first heard the term. STEM skills are the building blocks for the economic well being of our country. Rapid advances in science and technology have created much of the world’s wealth in recent years.

These advances in turn create new jobs requiring new skills and competencies. Today’s knowledge based workplace demands increasing amounts of technical proficiency at all levels, and many of our students are not developing the skills to succeed either in school, or in the increasingly technical workplace. Without significant changes in our ability to produce students who are not merely consumers of new technology, but who have the skills to participate in its creation, design and manufacture, our nation is in danger of not having the workforce needed to drive economic growth in the 21st century. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) put it this way in their report: “Since the beginning of the 20th century, average per capita income in the United States has grown more than sevenfold, and science and technology account for more than half of this growth. In the 21st century, the country’s need for a world-leading STEM workforce and a scien-

tifically, mathematically and technologically literate populace has become even greater, and it will continue to grow – particularly as other nations continue to make rapid advances in science and technology.”

The National Academy of Sciences “The primary driver of the future economy and concomitant creation of jobs will be innovation, largely derived from advances in science and engineering. . . . 4 percent of the nation’s workforce is composed of scientists and engineers; this group disproportionately creates jobs for the other 96 percent.” The National Academy of Sciences’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm 2005 report concluded, a “danger exists that Americans may not know enough about science, technology or mathematics to contribute significantly to, or fully benefit from, the knowledge-based economy that is already taking shape around us.” “If the United States had in recent years closed the gap between its educational achievement levels and those of better performing nations such as Finland and Korea, GDP in 2008 could have been $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion higher. This represents 9 to 16 percent of GDP.” At the state level, Georgia is aggressively pursuing a stronger STEM skills base, with new legislation to create a Science and Tech-

nology Strategic Initiative Joint Study Commission that will offer recommendations for development of a strategic plan by Jan. 2012. Governor Nathan Deal has announced that there will be regional meetings around the state to allow all stakeholders to participate. STEM skills are the foundation that supports Georgia’s technology intensive industry clusters such as logistics, financial technology, information security and IT communication and aerospace. These industries are growing, and hiring! The 2010 Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Technology Decision-Maker Survey revealed 70 percent of tech companies plan to hire in the next 12 months; 80 percent will expand their staff in the next 5 years. My own industry is aerospace, and our sector has grown 4.6% since 2006, despite the downturn in the economy. Georgia is the 5th largest aerospace state by employment, with over 84,500 citizens earning an average of $61,300. (43% more than the average salary in Georgia.) There is a projected job growth for skilled aerospace workers across the three main aerospace sectors are Georgia: manufacturing, maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO), and operations. Some of the largest employers are Delta Air Lines, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Gulfstream Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, but Georgia is host to over 500 companies of all sizes that support this diverse industry. We’ve addressed the need for a STEM focus nationwide and the opportunities for a STEM proficient workforce here in Georgia across multiple industries. What kinds of


skills will these students need? How can you help students begin to prepare to enter the workplace? Students need to be prepared for lifelong learning as most emerging jobs require some form of post-secondary education, and continuous advances in technology will require workers to continuously adapt to new requirements. They must be able to think critically, creatively solve problems, demonstrate good work ethics, and work with others in a multi-generational workplace, The American Management Association and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills boils it down to recommending we strive for improvement in the “three Rs and four Cs. (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation).

In a recent study of 116 scientists and graduate students about what first engaged them in science, sixty-five percent said their interest began before middle school, with forty percent of the respondents reporting that their interest was ignited by school related activities or even a teacher’s encouragement. One woman told the following comical story:

“When I was in third grade, my teacher did something you couldn’t do in class anymore— we dissected cow eyes. And I thought it was so cool and so much fun that he sent a bunch of extras home in a paper bag, and reminded me to put them in the fridge when I got home. And so I did. [When my mom came home she] said, “Hey, how was your day?” I said,


“ step at a time.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________ In order to engage students, you have to encourage them, give them opportunities to explore new ideas and experiences. Today’s students are also used to dealing with information at a much different pace than the lectures of classrooms in the past. Experiential learning, with hands on activities, is a great way to engage students and can be used with any subject matter. Even simple questions like “how does that work?” or “how do you suppose they figured that out?” can push students beyond rote answers and encourage learning.

“Great!” and I just went about my business and forgot the eyeballs in the fridge. She thought it was leftover lunch and went to open it up, and there were, like, four or five eyes looking back at her. And so all of a sudden I heard this screaming, and I realized what I had done … then from that point I started to really love science.” (Female, PhD student, Chemistry) As is often the case with complex issues, the only way to begin is “one step at a time.” In

the limited amount of time in the classroom using “hands-on” lessons, exposing students to new ideas, and just encouraging them to explore are some of the best ways to engage students in STEM, whether you are teaching English or Math. Helping students to see that success in the workplace begins at school and that the lessons are connected to real world job skills goes a long way to making it more interesting. Ask professional organizations for a speaker to come to your classroom and discuss how they use STEM skills at work. Tap into the many colleges and universities in Georgia and perhaps have a student who has completed a few years of colleges study come and talk to your students. Service clubs like the Lions, Rotary or Optimists often have an educational committee that might be a good source of speakers.

Search the many STEM related resources for the support that best suits you. Here are a few interesting sites to get you started: NASA Education Program http://www.nasa. gov/offices/education/about/index.html offers a wide array of educational resources. is a magazine that also provides all the information to do things like build homemade playdough circuits http://howto. with instructions for making the insulating and conductive dough, videos, material lists, etc. National Lab Network is a community where you

can post projects, ask for help, get ideas. The National Science Digital Library http:// is an online portal for STEM American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics has a wealth of aerospace related resources including teacher and student memberships, design competitions and the ever popular “Ask an engineer” feature. FIRST Robotics “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” FIRST’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. Math Moves U http://www.mathmovesu. com/#/home has scholarships, games, and support for the middle school math classroom. Project Lead the Way offers a gateway to technology curriculum for middle schools, and high school programs include pathway to engineering (PTE) and biomedical sciences ( BMS) EarthKAM Earth Knowledge acquired by Middle School Students is an educational outreach program allowing middle school students to take pictures of our Earth from a digital camera on board the International Space Station.

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shaping the future through

technology & innovation Georgia’s Centers of Innovation provides unique, technology-oriented support to businesses and start-ups in the areas of aerospace, agribusiness, energy, life sciences, logistics and advanced manufacturing. Each of the six centers provides direct access to university and technical college applied research, commercialization resources, technology connections, matching grant funds, potential investor networks and key government agencies. Client companies are connected with industry-specific experts who are on the leading edge of technology and new ideas. A common goal across all of the centers is to cut red tape, streamline connections and seek technology solutions to industry-led challenges; within this framework the Centers create a pro-growth, innovative business environment for industries critical to Georgia’s expansion.

S.T.E.M. Magazine  

A free science, technology, engineering and mathematics periodical for educators.

S.T.E.M. Magazine  

A free science, technology, engineering and mathematics periodical for educators.