Science Technology Engineering Math
Kristen Tringali December 15, 2013 Professor Maney CCE 110
Introduction S.T.E.M. is an acronym for the fields of study in the categories of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The term is typically used in addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools from kindergarten through college. There is an international consciousness component that comes with this pairing of disciplines, with the hopes to better American children who will be entering the workforce. As a nation vying to be at the cutting edge of quality of life and technology, this system provides an excellent framework from which to build upon in the future, and guarantees American involvement in international markets. The idea behind this type of education is ultimately to prepare students for future careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, meanwhile simultaneously improving education systems and promoting America as a country of intellectual and technical vigor and innovation. STEM is an important and relevant system for several reasons. This type of education will prepare students to work in the twenty first century. The demands of the work force have changed significantly over time-‐and the trend is overwhelmingly pointing away from routine and manual tasks to skilled and adaptive ones. Workforce projections for 2020 by the U.S. Department of Labor support these demands, and project their endurance far into the future. Occupations that typically need some type of postsecondary education for entry are projected to grow the fastest during the 2010-‐ 2020 decade. According to the United States Department of Labor, of the 22 major
occupational groups, jobs that require a science, technology, engineering, or math background/preliminary training have the highest expected growth ratesI. We must act now to ensure the futures of the next generation of leaders, and STEM education will truly act as an effective method of doing so. According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 8.06% of all degrees from various universities are for science, technology, engineering, or math. Below is a table that I constructed, illustrating the frequencies and percentages of college degrees by subject, as contrasted to all degrees awarded. Table 1:Degree Attainment by SubjectII Considering the increasing demand for jobs Degree Field Frequency Percentage Science
of this nature, it is imperative that we increase the number of students who seek to achieve degrees in these subject areas. If students continue to pursue degrees in other areas, it will be difficult for the United States to participate successfully in the global economy. In addition, the baby
boomer generation is aging, leaving many jobs to be filled by the newest college and high school graduates, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Real World Applications
It is important to understand the implications of using a STEM based system as a tenet of a community benefits agreement, as we have discussed during the semester. I have looked up programs that have a similar structure to the one that we are trying to create, however, there are not many other community benefits agreements that include a STEM education program. To supplement the lack of information on that particular combination, I have also compiled sources that discuss STEM programs in the academic setting, on a national level, state level, and district level. The division between these different social spheres will allow us to examine the organizational structures based on the number of students served. The techniques from these three current programs, as well as one community benefits agreement will draw parallels between the techniques used in both the present and those with hopes for the future, analyzing their effectiveness and strong points along the way. Project Lead the Way is a national non-‐profit organization that tries to promote science, technology, engineering and math topics through hands-‐on and project-‐based courses for students from k-‐12. Over two thousand schools in forty nine states teach and have taught over three hundred thousand students. The only requirements for entry in this program are classroom equipment like computer software, as well as special kits for hands-‐on learning, as well as an extensive amount of teacher trainingIII. As far as a search can conclude, this program is wildly successful. According to the Milwaukee Report in 2009, this program has the ability to close the achievement gap, a gap that refers to the disparity between educational achievements by race or
some other factor. In fact, according to the study, “all of the PLTW students in this study began middle school (6th grade) at lower proficiency in math, reading and science and with lower attendance rates than the control group of non-‐PLTW students. The study shows that by 8th grade, those gaps had been eliminated.”IV I find this to be particularly interesting considering the climate of my internship experience so far, and if given an opportunity to influence Hempstead High School administration at a higher level, I would be a huge advocate for a program such as this one. The idea of allowing anyone to participate in this program is also a notable feature. The training of teaching personnel as well as a guarantee that this system, when effective in the district, will have all of the resources that the creators intended it to have.
A state STEM initiative can be found in Ohio, dubbed OSLN for short and the
Ohio STEM Learning network for long, they have made leaps and bounds in improving the educational outcomes for students in the state. They have a very interesting way of asserting the importance of STEM education by taking an analysis of student debt after college. They dispute that students should be in such an enormous amount of debt for learning what should have been (at least partially) taught in grade school. 85% of the high school graduates at Metro, one of Ohio’s public schools get their General Educational Development diploma with a bunch of college credits on the side. For free. This is not all that OSLN has set up either. One of their main points is collaboration, and in order to do this successfully they have created a state-‐wide STEM learning network, complete with hubs, area based training center teams, and training centers to advertise the benefits of their programV.
This program is very unique in its completeness. One of the subsets that I find
most interesting from this program is what they have called “dual enrollment”. Each high school pairs up with a local college and allows students to take more challenging courses within the walls of their own high school, and receive college credit for their efforts. This technique encourages students to attend a higher education establishment and leads to more graduations as wellVI. This entire program has been very well thought out and obviously shows that the product we see today has gone through much scrutinizing to produce this very well oiled machine.
Next, I will speak of a district-‐based initiative. Located in Tempe, Arizona, the
Scales Technology Academy has set itself uniquely against other elementary schools in the country. One of the main characteristics of this program is the heavy integration of technology into both the curriculum and the classroom. Each day, technology is integrated in the classroom, and each student has equal access to the newest technology, including smart boards, document readers, and personal computers; items that many students do not have access to at home. The school tries to balance a core knowledge as well as many invaluable skills that are especially relevant to our time, including creating independent learners, critical thinkers, and problem solversVII.
Whether we like it or not, technology is growing and will be ever present in our
economy, lives, and occupations. This school takes an innovative approach and truly empowers students by giving them the opportunity to learn skills that would normally be reserved for those who could afford the gadgets to learn on. By allowing students to
be well versed with the technology that surrounds them, they will be more able to command the world around them upon graduation. An example of a community benefits agreement that includes a STEM education component comes to us from the Florida Department of Education, published using data from 2006-‐2007. They talk mostly about how their education system encourages STEM skill development, but at the same time provides many suggestions to be implemented in our plan. The project of creating a hub STEM project can be distributed among all levels of education. Community colleges in Florida provide many resources to elementary and secondary schools in the area. Below are some policies/concepts that have been enacted in Florida to help students succeed. Specific examples are provided along with the county that enacted them. This is a very rich source for ideas.VIII •
Assistance Plus teams are created. They are a set of specialists that are there to help the lower preforming schools specific to a certain geographical area.
Dual enrollment courses exist in the high schools. This provides students with an opportunity to accrue college credit while still in high school, motivating them to pursue a higher education.
Tutoring organizations have been put in place that help students with all subjects, especially STEM ones.
Academic competitions encourage learning among students.
Summer camp programs are in place that include the STEM topics.
Each of these models are very effective and we can learn a lot about them
coming from areas that do not stress the benefits of STEM education. A combination of the different approaches to this type of training would be ideal, however, each works very well independently. The pursuit of integrating STEM education into local curriculums would be invaluable to the children and families that would be enormously benefitted. The world is changing, and in order to train our next generation of leaders to deal with the new world, we must start preparing them as soon as they embark on their learning career. STEM jobs are expected to keep up an accelerated pace in the coming years leading to 1.8 million STEM-‐related job openings in 2018VI. I Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Employment Projections: 2010-‐2020 Summary. II U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2010, Completions component. III Project Lead The Way. Who We Are. http://www.pltw.org/about-‐us/who-‐we-‐are IV Project Lead The Way. Fact Sheet: Survey Highlights. http://www.pltw.org/sites/default/files/PLTW%20Fact%20Sheet%202012.pdf V Ohio STEM Learning http://osln.org VI OSLN Regional Centers Training Brochure. http://www.osln.org/wp-‐ content/uploads/2013/05/New-‐TC-‐brochure.pdf VII Scales Technology Academy. Homepage. http://sta.tempeschools.org VIII STEM Initiatives in Community Colleges: A program review.