is the answer.
The question: Are girls ready for more involvement in STEM?
This student, from Cora Kelly school in Alexandria, VA, is reaping academic success from the concentration on STEM classes at the school.
(see article below, right)
Collaboration Builds Community--and Fun Science Projects, too
A goal of the Northville, Michigan, school district is to graduate world-class citizens who will become quality contributors in their communities and beyond. In past years, educators at Amerman Elementary have reached out to schools as far away as Afghanistan and Japan, connecting children and exposing them to diverse customs and languages. Amerman's students have learned that, despite cultural differences, kids are essentially just kids. Principal Stephen Anderson, National Distinguished Principal in 2008 and a recipient of a Sharing the Dream grant, believes that same lesson can be taught by partnering with a school just around the corner.
Anderson and his team formed a partnership with Detroit's Roberto Clemente Learning Academy where 95% of students are Latino and many students speak Spanish as their first language. The first goal was for 4th graders at both schools to learn math and science concepts as a community in a fun team-building activity called the Solar Sprint. Over time the teachers and principals began to share resources and time--and meals out--and students at both schools joined forces to feed hungry children around the world.
Twelve LEGO E-Lab kits were purchased with NAESP Foundation Dream funds (part of a program sponsored by MetLife) for the 4th grade classes at Roberto Clemente so that they could participate in a Solar Sprint competition at Amerman in June. Working in teams, students designed, built, tested and raced solar cars; in the process they learned about simple machines, renewable energy, speed and efficiency ratios, and other concepts. On the day of the race, engineering students from the University of Michigan Solar Race Team came to display their race car designs and interact with students.
Amerman's students and their families collected and donated books and much-needed sports equipment to Roberto Clemente Learning Academy as a community service learning activity. Children from both schools packaged 15,000 meal kits to support Kids Against Hunger, a humanitarian food-aid organization. The partnership was recognized by a National PTA's Family-School Partnership Award of Merit.
BOOKS for STEM Inspiration Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, by National Research Council
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are cultural achievements that reflect our humanity, power our economy, and constitute fundamental aspects of our lives as citizens, consumers, parents, and members of the workforce.
A successful STEM program would increase the number of students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields, enhance the STEM-capable workforce, and boost STEM literacy for all students.
ITEM# SSTEM in the
$12.95 NAESP Members $17.95 Non-Members
STEM is Elementary: Why Elementary Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Prepares Students to Beat the Gaps! by Glory Oljace and Alexander Everhart
This timely resource clarifies the need for STEM programming at the elementary level and offers educators a viable, researched solution for inspiring and preparing all students to succeed. With its clear explanation, vivid diagrams and step-by-step instructions, this book is instantly accessible to all.
Item# STEME in the NAESP bookstore
$12.95 NAESP Members
National Mentor and Certification Training
NAESP's National Principal Mentor K-12 Training and Certification Program gives outstanding veteran principals tools to work with to train new and aspiring principals/ administrators to better understand their craft and guide them to become the best leaders they can be. NAESP's main purpose is to advocate for the profession and identify mentoring techniques and research necessary to support our future leaders.
For more information on NAESP National Principal Mentor Program or if you are interested in setting up mentoring training in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 386-2377.
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Where are you with STEM? Do you recognize how hands-on engagement with science that incorporates technology and math can not only boost student engagement but also help to create tomorrow's problem solvers? Does your school really understand how an "engineering perspective" takes schools from the world of theory to direct application?
Are your students involved in conducting exciting experiments? Do they regularly apply math to solve practical problems--even problems that they are proposing? How up-to-date is your technology? And is it being used to the fullest extent? Who are your technology gurus in your school? How are they being tapped? And how is STEM being incorporated across subjects? Is it being combined with the ARTS for a truly cross-disciplinary approach that celebrates the best from all fields?
Below are a few ideas and resources that may help you get on track with STEM. No time like the present.
|Bringing Girls and Minorities into STEM |
By Suzan Mullane
"Only 25% of STEM-related positions in the U.S. are held by women, yet women with STEM occupations earn 33% more than comparably educated women in non-STEM jobs."
Judy D'Amico, senior director of engagement for Project Lead The Way, an organization making a difference for over 400,000 students in all 50 states, understands the importance of STEM in schools and girls' participation in it. Judy was recently honored with a "Leading Woman in STEM in California" award.
A Worthy Recognition
D'Amico's collaborative work in developing innovative educational initiatives with philanthropic industries such as Chevron, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Intel, has been outstanding.
Project Lead The Way is a middle school and high school curriculum that provides students with relevant hands-on experiences, bringing visual life to the theories and formulas found in traditional math, science and technology textbooks. From robotics to graphic architectural design and medical technology, PLTW is rigorous and applicable to 21st Century jobs.
The goals? Creativity and problem solving in inquiry-based learning with a steadfast vision for future STEM employment.
But what are PLTW's outcomes?
- PLTW alumni are 5 to 10 times more likely to pursue engineering and technology classes than other first-year college students.
- On average, PLTW alumni have a GPA 0.21 points higher than the average GPA of all first-year college students.
- PLTW students surveyed in Wisconsin middle schools and high schools reported being more engaged in schoolwork than did non-PLTW students.
- PLTW students outscored a random sample of other career/technical students by 10 points in reading, 11 points in mathematics, and 10 points in science.
- 79 percent of PLTW graduates completed four years of college-preparatory mathematics, and 63 percent completed four years of college-preparatory science.
- 97 percent of PLTW alumni said they planned to pursue a four-year degree as opposed to 67 percent of non-PLTW students.
Stimulating girls' interests in STEM is important but so too is increasing the STEM participation of all minorities. Project Lead The Way is networking with Cornell University graduate Irving Pressley McPhail, President and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). In a recent lecture at Cornell, McPhail describes his vision:
It is important to introduce science as early as possible, and ninth grade is not always early enough to spark an interest in engineering. The NACME STEM Urban Initiative reaches out to middle schools, raising awareness about engineering studies and career paths in grades six to eight and helps to shape the engineering labor force of the future.
He noted that in the United States, compared with other countries, there are disproportionately small numbers of minority students in these fields. NACME strives to rectify this problem by creating an "engineering workforce that looks like America." (Byrne, 2012)
Irving Pressley McPhail is not alone in his vision. Meet Michael Perkins, former President of Alaska's Chapter of the National Association of Secondary School Principals and current principal of Anchorage Mears Middle School. Perkins and his team are in the first phase of PLTW and collaborating with seasoned pros from their local high school, Anchorage Dimond High.
"We recognized, as a community of learners, including oil industry executives here in Alaska, that we needed to increase students' STEM interests earlier than high school. Yes, there were lots of logistics to work out, including some capital improvements, refreshed IBM computers to utilize PLTW's software, and face time with local engineers. We trained at Colorado State University for a few weeks in the summer, graciously financed by local state educational grants. Everyone has been gracious, especially our teachers volunteering time before and after school; we had to have built-in planning time for our teachers to collaborate with local engineering professionals, university professors and of course high school teachers to meet Project Lead the Way's standard of excellence in vertical alignment. Allocated state release in-service time has been well-utilized.
"Anything worthwhile for kids takes time, but we recognize here in Alaska that to keep our state economy strong we needed to 'home grow' local STEM talent for Alaska's economic future. Are we making a difference? I'm pleased to say the University of Alaska's Engineering Program has had to increase their rigor for our STEM graduating seniors. We will expand the state's first 4-year high school Engineering Academy and further expand Alaska's first middle school engineering program to include biomedical technology. I'm pleased to see that we have girls participating in our program. We want to make sure we give all of our students, not just the gifted students, ample opportunity, so we started with an open enrollment. The student interest was over-whelming, so we hope to expand beyond the first phase."
Finally, the PLTW website offers an alignment tool to match their standards and objectives with the Common Core Standards.
Quick Facts to Inspire STEM Initiatives
By Dr. Christine Mason
Looking for facts and figures to support STEM in your school? Change the Equation has a plethora of links and even a section of STEMtistics. Here are examples from that site:
- "36% of Americans admit they can't do math. Among Americans aged 18 to 35, it's a whopping 53%" according to a Change the Equation survey conducted in September 2010.
- Blacks and Hispanics are underemployed in science and engineering, according to 2011 statistics from the National Science Foundation. Only 4% of this workforce is Hispanic and only 3% are Black. The workforce is predominantly White and male--including White men (55%), White women (18%); also Asian men (12%) and Asian women (5%).
- Only 44% of elementary school principals in California agree that their students will get "strong science instruction" in their schools.
- In 2007-2008 elementary teachers responsible for teaching science spent only 2.3 hours per week on science, compared to 3 hours a week in 1993-94, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
In a state-by-state review, Change the Equation portrays the STEM status for individual states. At their website you can find information under "Vital Signs" for each state. Their report shows that business leaders in most states have "sounded the alarm," as they cannot find employees needed with STEM talents.
Here are STEM examples of activities at the elementary level:
- A Museum of Science project in Boston has created an Engineering is Elementary (EiE) program that makes science fun and engaging. Students work in teams to problem-solve and explore engineering challenges. The EiE program is currently being used by 1.18 million students and over 20,000 teachers in all 50 states and DC.
- The National Center for STEM Elementary at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN, is an example of a program that leads to licensure in STEM. The program requires three interdisciplinary courses--in biology, chemistry, and physics/engineering.
- The Cora Kelly School for Math, Science, and Technology (Grades Pre-k-5) in Alexandria, VA, includes cross-curricular lessons in their outdoor classroom, the Habitat, enrichment activities and after-school clubs in science, technology, engineering, and math, and has an annual Scimatech Fair. The program includes mathematics and science labs. The Habitat is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Habitat and includes a small pond with over 100 species of plants, birds, turtles, frogs, fish, and insects. Cora Kelly serves a diverse population of students and 73% of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Cora Kelly has seen a steady increase in test scores since 2009. In 2012, students performed better than 65% of the elementary students in Virginia.
The National Society of Professional Engineers is involved in helping students at Cora Kelly through operating an engineering club.
ThinkBug is a Complete Solution for Early-Childhood Education (Ages 3-6). The ThinkBug enhances the interaction between parents, teachers, and the classroom experience.
- NAEYC-Aligned Curriculum
- Large Brick Manipulatives
- 275 Building Challenges
- Alphabet and Number Builder Cards
- Mobile Storage Lab
- Assessment Tools
- Parent Support Materials
The sample includes examples for digital photography and video as well as other grade level samples.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has Cool Science for Curious Kids and includes virtual field trips and a wide array of demos and guides.
|STEM and the Global Economy: Germany and Harrisburg, PA, Plant Seeds of Hope |
By Suzan Mullane
Clearly, jobs and economic growth were at the forefront of the November elections; sadly however, many economists believe that the US will not have true economic recovery until 2018, (Carneville, 2012). Recessions, and economic growth can be cyclical, but long-term job recovery will require a new workforce, enhanced by the collective efforts of the American classroom and the principals who lead them.
Perhaps collaboration between educators and industry will be the tool of the new economy. Teaching children in fresh ways that engage their brains with purposeful lessons may ultimately lead to 21st century employment. Siemens, a Germany-based company, is working in elementary schools across the country to engage students in STEM-related education--planting seeds for the future and providing hope and faith in students' abilities and interests so they can flourish beyond childhood. Educational reform that leads to job creation will require a systemic approach, a reform beyond rigor and testing. From elementary schools through high schools, making education relevant makes sense. Germany and Pennsylvania's school apprenticeship programs for instance are gaining momentum worthy of replication.
"Nearly two-thirds of young Germans participate in the nation's centuries-old apprentice program: companies, trade unions, vocational schools, and the government collaborate to pair new workers with job training at businesses that may eventually hire them. Paid apprenticeships combine classroom instruction with professional internships, and apprentices are matched to jobs in fields as diverse as baking to nuclear technology. The skills are often transferable. The result is a more resilient German workforce than its industrialized peers: the youth unemployment rate in Germany is less than half that in America, and German unemployment rates decreased, and its economy grew, even during the height of the global economic downturn. (Zakaria, 2012)."
Increased automation and off-shore cheap labor have taken a toll on US jobs. Students will therefore need an edge to compete in the global marketplace. The benefits of business collaboration increase thoughtful pedagogy and can provide hands-on time with scientists and technicians to stimulate young minds. US economic development will require a grass-roots approach, and STEM-related instruction will be at the centerpiece in forward-thinking schools. Consider what Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is doing to unite business and classrooms through their ENVISION Project to create workforce-ready graduates.
Skilled workers educated in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) area are desperately needed to fill valuable positions that will have a direct impact on the competitiveness of companies and the surge of the economy. Harrisburg is answering this call and, as a result, is establishing an "economic development supply chain" for the global marketplace--a STEM hub in which business and education team up to provide a steady stream of workforce-ready, technically proficient workers (Schiavelli, 2012).
Students as young as elementary school can also explore areas of STEM career interests in non-fiction texts through personalized learning. Capitalizing on students' interests creates a relevant learning environment (Daggett, 2008).
Elementary schools that explore entrepreneurship through STEM show another method to increase academic motivation that not only builds on creative problem-solving but also provides the framework for team building through cooperative learning. Business communities like the German-based Siemens Foundation have provided multiple grants in several states to enhance STEM-related instruction in elementary and middle schools. Setting the stage early helps students see that goal- related learning has real relevance in their lives. In fact, STEM apprenticeships and STEM entrepreneurships offer a holistic approach across the curriculum (Miller, 2011).
Carneville. (2012). Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce Web.
Daggett, W. R. (2008). Preparing U.S. schools for the 21st Century. International Center for Leadership in Education Web.
Miller, K.T. (2012). STEM: An Entrepreneurial Approach Web.
Schiavelli, M. (2012, March 2). Home-Grown Economic Development. US News Web.
Zakaria, F. (2012, Sept 18). Fareed Zakaria Looks for Solutions for Growing Jobs in Political Special. CNN Press Room Web.
Stemming for the Future:No Time Like the Present
Is your school stemming? Perhaps you would call your school "STEMtastic" or are you searching for a STEMulus for change? Have you conducted a STEMNOSTICS review of your school?
How well do you STEM? Hopefully you are not "stemming the tides of change" but rather embracing your budding scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Do you find you have a core group of STEMINISTS at your school?
In April of this year the Department of Education awarded 3.1 million to colleges across the country to focus on STEM programs for minority institutions, with some funds targeted to the PreK-12 students. Students who graduate from high schools prepared to enter into career-focused math and science majors will be better prepared for their future. Our nation needs people who know how to design reliable buildings, roads, and bridges for our infrastructure, who can imagine ways to diminish damage from floods and winds, who can develop new materials or new ways of using old materials, who can work on environmentally safer energy, technology, and tools for living--and so much more.
Preparation for college and careers in math must begin in the elementary years. There is much to love about the science of investigation. There are many ways to capitalize on kids' natural curiosity.
One way to begin work is to invite engineers to your meetings--to form partnerships with them and to incorporate their ideas into academic blueprints for our schools.
Director, Center for Educational Improvement