CSO Blog

Elected advocates for STEM and innovation in schools and communities.
December 29, 2018 //

Envisioning STEM Education for All

Author: Jasper Pena

Whether it’s our annual Arizona SciTech Festival or Chief Science Officers program, the SciTech Institute has been successful in getting a new generation excited about taking the lead in the next generation of our state’s workforce.

As it turns out, the Institute (previously known as the Arizona Technology Council Foundation) is totally in synch with a new initiative to take the lessons of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and use them to benefit the entire nation.

Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education” is a report just issued by the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science & Technology Council. Its purpose is to offer a federal strategy based on a vision for a future where all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education and the nation will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment.

I was fortunate to be a member of the group that helped develop this 5-year STEM education strategic plan during the State-Federal STEM Education Summit hosted during the summer by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Also nominated by Gov. Doug Ducey to attend the two-day meeting was Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, a council partner that has been heavily in involved in STEM workforce development.

According to the report, this vision for the future will be achieved by pursuing three critical goals:

•      Build strong foundations for STEM literacy by ensuring every American has the opportunity to master basic STEM concepts, including computational thinking, and to become digitally literate. Private and public sector employers can provide the most authentic lessons in digital ethics, online information analysis and cyber safety. Elected officials along with community nonprofits and professional organizations are well positioned to heighten the urgency of this priority among constituencies and members.

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•      Increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM, and provide all Americans — especially those historically under served and under represented in STEM fields and employment — with lifelong access to high-quality STEM education. All stakeholders of the STEM education community can identify ways to be active members in their local STEM ecosystems, such as that of the Institute.

•      Prepare the STEM workforce for the future — both college-educated STEM practitioners and those working in skilled trades that do not require a four-year degree— by creating authentic learning experiences that encourage and prepare learners to pursue STEM careers.

So how do we do this? The national strategy is built on four pathways representing a cross-cutting set of approaches:

Develop and enrich strategic partnerships – Focus on strengthening existing relationships and developing new connections among educational institutions, employers and their communities.

Engage students where disciplines converge – Make STEM learning more meaningful and inspiring to students by engaging learners in transdisciplinary activities such as project-based learning and science fairs. Help students challenged in mathematics — frequently a barrier to STEM careers — by using innovative, tailored instructional methods.

Build computational literacy – Empower people with the tools to find information, answer questions and share ideas while having them understand how to use these tools responsibly and safely.

Operate with transparency and accountability – Commit the federal government to open, evidence-based practices and decision-making in STEM programs, investments and activities through five objectives:

•      Leverage and scale evidence-based practices across STEM communities

•      Report participation rates of underrepresented groups

•      Use common metrics to measure progress

•      Make program performance and outcomes publicly available

•      Develop a federal implementation plan and track progress

While I’ve already mentioned a few programs that the Institute offers to plant the seed, we can’t do it alone. The reports offers some suggestions on where the wider STEM education community can start:

• Pre-K through 12 and informal educators and administrators can find guidance for selecting professional development options and enhancing their own abilities.

• Community college professionals can identify ways to strengthen their leadership roles in offering work-based learning opportunities through industry partnerships.

• Four-year colleges and universities can use the objectives as fruitful lines of scholarship, useful guidelines for course design and touchpoints for teacher preparation programs.

• Community and professional organizations can keep members up to date on these trends in STEM education through their communications and events.

No matter what segment of the community you represent, there is a plenty of work to do and benefits to gain by making STEM education part of your own game plan. And the rewards will endure generation after generation.

Retrieved From: Zylstra, Steve Envisioning STEM education for all. Retrieved from https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2018/12/19/envisioning-stem-education-for-all.html?surround=etf&u=lCzk N4QUuhAv6nIuHNeCg0aecbbda&t=1546119984&j=85656331

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