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Page 1-01 ⇒A STEM System⇐

High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS" STEM professional educators in high school and college devote much time, insight, creativity, and funds to providing the best STEM education possible for U.S. students. Yet, high attrition of entering college classes, high attrition of new hires for businesses, and poor performance of American students relative to our competitors on international tests suggest that current science courses are not serving modern needs sufficiently. Preparation for workplace teamwork appears poorly served by near exclusive emphasis on individual performance in education. High school students may aspire to jobs that will not exist when they reach the workplace or that will have requirements differing from those that were attractive a few years earlier. Flexibility built on a sound foundation appears to be the necessary knowledge/skill package high school students carry forward to the workplace or the next education level.

More details follow.

⇒A STEM System⇐ seeks to provide a stimulant for debate about how to conduct high school STEM education more effectively.


Page 1-02 ⇒A STEM System⇐

High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

TEACHERS

Most STEM teachers are dedicated, responsible, overworked, and underpaid. Typically, they are wellprepared to teach at least one science, and will do their best to teach other sciences to give students broader exposure to science and satisfy administration needs.

BUT

STEM teachers seldom have non-classroom experience that helps them enrich their teaching and inform students about the character of work in STEM fields, the range of employment for STEM specialists, and the implementation of STEM by employees not considered scientists/engineers. Very few have any familiarity with engineering design or the work of engineers that enables them to support full implementation of NGSS.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


Page 1-03 ⇒A STEM System⇐

High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

POLICY

STEM education policy and basic curricula have been set by professional educators for more than a century. In recent years, standards have been established in an effort to improve STEM courses. Many U.S. competitors make teacher salaries competitive with non-education work and use many fewer education administrators.

BUT

The 90% of STEM specialists working outside the professional educator community effectively have been disenfranchised from affecting classroom content/operations. Current and prospective teachers are not encouraged to gain “real world” experience where salary and work demand differentials become painfully obvious. Standards tend to set a floor for performance rather than encourage reaching for the limitless ceiling. U.S. STEM teachers salary levels are usually below 80% of salaries for non-education work and administrator/teacher ratios often approach 1:1 in education, where the ratio a half-century earlier was nearer 1:10.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


Page 1-04 ⇒A STEM System⇐

High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS" STEM education policy and curriculum has been set by professional educators for the past century. For many teachers, textbook selection dictates how CURRICULUM AND CLASSROOM curriculum choices are implemented. Districts may use a curriculum imposed centrally. Teachers will have aids chosen or self-created that fit their style and emphases.

BUT

A multidisciplinary STEM structure and imposition of Student Projects require a major adjustment of curriculum organization, while accommodating the attributes of existing curricular objectives, materials and aids. Existing teaching aids and the contents of exiting curricula may fit the new STEM operation with little adjustment. Standards, such as NGSS, continue to apply. Teacher Teams provide planning and implementation decision-making.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

STUDENT PROJECTS

The challenge of problemsolving motivates most students. Thus, problembased work is both stimulating and effective.

BUT

Teachers are encouraged to develop and implement problems although they seldom have rich experiences in science/engineering practice on which to base problems. The written versions of most teacher-produced problems become expanded traditional experiments wrapped around an environmental issue. Implementation of problems often is degraded when a teacher is uncomfortable with the breadth and/or depth of the technical content and lack of facilities.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

COURSES

Biology, chemistry and physics are the same triumvirate courses recommended for high schools over a century ago.

BUT

The triumvirate leads to silos of separation when multidisciplinary inclusion has exemplified science/engineering practice for many decades. Many students are unable to complete the triumvirate. Late bloomers are seldom able to overcome lapses and misconceptions created in earlier years. Faddishness may lead students to specialize too early at the expense of building solid foundations for science/engineering.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

STUDENTS

The seat-time based assembly line approach of American education assumes student uniformity in a class. Students are presumed to understand concepts previously studied. All students in a given class are expected to have met all prerequisites.

BUT

By high school, classes are amorphous, with students having wide variations in readiness to study STEM subjects. Teachers try to accommodate this variation, with limited success. Well-behaved advanced students are often left unchallenged since they get high grades. Capable but behaviorallychallenged poor students may not get sufficient remediation to address STEM content at the level desired. Many students lack basic ability to use common tools needed for repair/construction of STEM objects/artifacts.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

SCIENCE-RICH CONTRIBUTORS TO STEM EDUCATION POLICIES AND INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS

Most major decision-points and materials development have engaged representatives of science-rich organizations as well as educators. STEM Specialist distribution is: 70% Industry/business 10% Government 10% Higher Education 10% Other

BUT

Science-rich representatives usually have been too few in number (2 out of 40 for writing NGSS) to have much impact. STEM educators decide what to include in educational materials without consultation of the science-rich communities. Teachers decide how to interpret standards and guidelines for their specific implementations in classroom/lab.

Collegiate STEM educators are a significant portion of “Other”

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


Page 1-09 ⇒A STEM System⇐

High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS" Textbooks of limited graphical presentations oriented to memorization of descriptive information have given way to concept-focused instructional suites INSTRUCTIONAL surrounding textbooks of spectacular graphics with MATERIALS audio-visual and computerenhanced materials that enable teachers to give wellillustrated presentations, assignments with automated review/corrections, and carefully created tests.

BUT

The instructional suites constructed to satisfy the desires of many educators and to compete with other well-financed products have not resulted in concomitant improvement in student performance after high school. A recent survey of STEM textbooks in actual use reported some schools still using materials copyrighted 70 years ago. Although updated frequently, textbook suites take many years to incorporate new scientific discoveries or reflect scientific/engineering practices of STEM Specialists.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

Suppliers of laboratory materials and equipment offer a wide variety of materials and instruments at SUPPLIES many pricing levels. Modular AND EQUIPMENT computer-based instrumentation offers simulation of many highpriced commercial devices.

BUT

High schools have wide variations in budgetary support for STEM experimentation. Safety regulations are sometimes implemented to give students few to no opportunities to perform experiments.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

Many STEM Specialists enjoy demonstrating the attributes of STEM in understanding our SCIENCE-RICH world and applying STEM in REPRESENATIVES interesting and important AS TEACHERS/ ways. Many science-rich COUNCELIORS organizations recognize the need for a future workforce that is STEM capable and know that learning STEM must start early in life and continue thereafter.

BUT

Very small numbers of STEM Specialists gain access to all students for extremely limited time in school to explain their work environment and provide career counseling. Extremely beneficial extracurricular STEM activities attract a limited number of student STEM enthusiasts and directly impact very small numbers of teachers. Influence of STEM Specialists on school curricula and classroom work has been and still is almost nonexistent.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

Modern society offers many advantages for health, safety, STEM IS NOT food, transportation and communications. Misuse of JUST FOR technology offers potential STEM SPECIALISTS harm to individuals on up to entire populations.

High school STEM education is for ALL students. Future STEM Specialists need to begin developing foundational knowledge, skills, and attitudes for engaging in many different activities that require understanding current knowledge. BUT

An equal requirement is the ability to recognize new knowledge/skills that may be required and how to attain them. Those who are not STEM Specialists need to understand STEM well enough to help set the parameters for the practices of STEM and provide much of the financing and regulation of STEM activities.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

CAREER INFORMATION

High school students receive career guidance from communications media, school counselors and teachers, family members, and acquaintances.

BUT

Counselors know about STEM majors and their academic requirements. However, they know little about STEM careers and the differences among trades, science technicians, engineering technicians, technologists, scientists and engineers. Most STEM teachers are only slightly better informed about STEM careers. There is a strong academic bias against programs resulting in degrees/certificates requiring less than four years..

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

HOME SHOOLING

Some home schoolers operate with almost complete independence; others pool efforts through a variety of arrangements. Some home schoolers look for arrangements with private or public schools to provide STEM experiences

BUT

High school students need experiences of working with teams – as members and/or as leaders. Rote learning and simulations may be insufficient for many STEM practices and applications. Most STEM Specialists work in groups, not as a lonely scientist or inventor isolated in a remote corner.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

Encouragement of STEM students to work hard may be provided by many different MOTIVATORS types of celebrities – professional athletes, “Hidden Figures” and similar stars, astronauts, etc.

BUT

Access to these motivators often depends upon local connections. Face-to-face contacts benefit small numbers of STEM students and arrangements for the contact may be expensive in both funds and time. Time of contact may be inconvenient or impossible for many students.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

Many science-rich SCIENCE-RICH organizations are investing ORGANIZATIONS time and funds in WANTING TO extracurricular STEM activities MAKE A to help students have fun and DIFFERENCE challenges.

BUT

Most of the participating students are already considering STEM-based careers. Many teachers do not have the time to become deeply engaged in extracurricular STEM activities. Most of the activities are oriented toward a narrow STEM area, particularly robotics or IT. Few address chemistry, mechanics, biology or other important STEM areas.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.


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High School STEM Education Must Cope with Many "BUTS"

SCHOOL BUILDING

School building designs vary in convenience for experimentation appropriate for sciences.

BUT

STEM is multidisciplinary. Many chemicals require hoods for safe use. Some equipment construction may require materials fabrication tools and work spaces. Large, open-view spaces and “surveillance” equipment may be necessary for safe operations with large classes. Each existing site must be “repurposed” for ⇒A STEM System⇐. New facilities can be designed to give great flexibility to meet all STEM requirements.

⇒A STEM System⇐ offers mechanisms to reduce the severity of the problems following “BUT” above.

Chapter 1  
Chapter 1