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Mrs. Finter

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  1. The posters around the halls and in classrooms have gained some traction and have garnered perhaps an increased awareness of the potential for STEM careers- but is it too late?  I sometimes wonder if we haven't done enough to build the curiosity and "excitement" for STEM in the levels for where it matters most - in the elementary, middle and junior high levels.  Some of the best experiences within science programs have been removed (Science "fairs" or long term projects that allow students to build models, test designs and collaborate with peers - outside of school have been replaced).  Content coverage is an issue - instead of building the scientific practices.  By the time students are in high school, the discipline silos do little to show the interconnectedness of STEM concepts, and teachers may or may not have access to the network connections that support the burgeoning interest of their students.


    That issue of content coverage (and even the sequence of courses) also does little to spark interest in STEM - courses become a series of isolated facts to remember.....it would be interesting to take a look at the students that participate in AP science courses - why they take what they take and when they decide to take those courses.....


    Now don't get me wrong -there are fantastic teachers who, even faced with the issue of coverage, bridge connections for kids and spark interest.  They engage their students in complex, challenging problems and promote critical thinking skills that are necessary for success in any STEM path.  I don't think that this is an issue where there is one causal factor - parents, teachers, society, higher education institutions, corporations......all need to be a part of the conversations, and then hopefully reach the same conclusion regarding the importance of STEM in order to develop a LASTING plan of action for our educational system.


    So, the question you pose is a relevant one.  We need sustainable partnerships that can bring skill-developing, real-world challenges and problems based opportunities to our students, while supporting the heart of our disciplinary core ideas.  We need a coherent, comprehensive K-12 program, where STEM never becomes an afterthought.  

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