How is STEM Education Shaping the Future of our Science Classes?
Guest article written by Barbara Mascareno-Shaw
As more school districts focus on STEM education, there is room to improve. What is STEM education? Simply, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). It is an effort for teachers and students to explore the interdisciplinary aspects of each subject in the scientific field.
It is interesting to see students engage in a science activity that promotes science learning and other areas of learning. STEM education promotes a realm of benefits. Students benefit from literacy, collaboration, and problem-solving.
More than learning, STEM education fosters the ability to connect with others while enhancing the learning experience of students. Whether students prepare for a project-based learning activity or a team PowerPoint presentation, they are boosting their critical thinking skills and scientific reasoning.
Educators, parents, and communities can emerge students into STEM opportunities. They can also help young people prevent the loss of future career opportunities. In addition, collaboration should exist between community partners and schools.
As high school dropout rates increase and the lack of motivation for students to learn science grows, the U.S. education system will continue to fall behind global market competition. Even though schools perform outreach programs to inform community partners of STEM education, it is essential to understand why it is important in our classrooms.
Unfortunately, bringing national attention to STEM is a slow process in the making. Although many school districts attempt to bring these initiatives to a new level, it lacks the funding support from businesses and community stakeholders.
Promoting STEM Education Awareness
Dr. Francis Eberle points out U.S. students perform in math, science, and overall achievement lower than Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Netherlands, Hungary, Russian Federation and Australia. While the statistics are not favorable for U.S. students to compete in a global economy, schools need to promote the need for STEM education.
The U.S. government has made attempts to bring STEM education into the light offering community programs such as Ready-to-Learn Television Grants, Investing in Innovation, Teacher Incentive Fund, Math and Science Partnerships, Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow, and Teacher Quality Partnerships.
In addition to federal support, other STEM education programs such as 21st-Century Community Learning Centers (in partnership with NASA and the National Park Services) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services attempt to reach students in urban schools. However, it is not an easy task.
Latinos in STEM Education
Urban schools face demanding challenges besides implementing a successful STEM education program. Along with a lack of funds, community support, and socioeconomic status issues, students in urban schools miss an opportunity to excel in school. Students in urban schools need the support to break the cycle of low self-esteem and poverty.
In particular, Hispanics and Latinos are one group in urban schools that lack the support for STEM education. According to Excelencia in Education, Latinos miss the opportunity to become professional.
When 23% of Latinos obtain jobs in services more than the 5% in the professional field, it is an awakening fact that Latinos are not seeking higher education degrees.
Moreover, only 2% of academic institutions award Latinos with professional degrees in STEM. According to U.S. News and World Report, Latinos make up less than 10% of STEM-related careers.
What are we doing in the classroom to increase the opportunity for Latino students to engage in science and math?
With many coalitions and organization campaigns for more opportunities in STEM education, much of the efforts go to increase awareness for the lower grades.
The most significant aspect of relating STEM education to schools and stakeholders is not just to promote the lower grades, but to also encourage technological or career-tech schools that specialize in successful STEM education programs.
Many career-tech secondary schools specialize in particular programs that can encourage Latino students to stay in school. Furthermore, when STEM education is partnered with community college courses, students, in general, tend to be more engaged in science and other subjects.
The Future of STEM Education
As it stands, STEM education will continue with the turbulent battle to raise awareness for community partners and stakeholders. Much of the progress in STEM education has been and will continue to be in scholarships, outreach programs, incentive recruitment programs, mentorships, and higher education enhancement programs.
More needs to be done to encourage successful STEM education programs. As schools, and especially urban schools continue with a trial and error approach to STEM education, it is necessary to reach out to community partners and stakeholders about the options.
Even if teachers continue to improve and refine their instructional skills, the amount of support has not changed. Officials and partners in education need to raise awareness for STEM education.
As the global economy fights in an everyday fierce competition, our students also need to be ready with the essential tools to succeed. STEM education provides possible answers to an ever-changing global market.
About: Barbara is a bilingual science teacher and a freelance writer. When she is not busy using her goggles and lab coat during science projects, she is educating about foreign language. You can find her dwelling in her blog at Spanish4Kiddos about all things education and learning. You can connect with her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.