Contributed by Desiree Bartlett
Corwin has some excellent resources for those interested in STEM education, but we definitely need much, much more! We hope that this blog will generate more ideas and more interest in STEM, STEM offerings, and authors interested in delivering content on the issues surrounding STEM implementation and teaching.
As defined by N. Tsupros, R. Kohler, and J. Hallinen, “STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.”
Some highlights of Corwin’s current STEM titles include David Sousa’s From STEM to STEAM (2013) and Robert Slavin’s soon to be published work, Proven Programs in Education: Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM). STEM-related titles publishing in the summer and fall include: Making School a Game Worth Playing and Climate Smart and Energy Wise. Climate Smart covers not only math and various science disciplines, but also language arts and the social studies, emphasizing that the study of something as significant and complex as global climate change requires an interdisciplinary approach to the topic. Increasingly, we are seeing schools moving in the direction of interdisciplinary, project-based STEM programs, school design, and innovative ways of thinking about teaching and learning. The authors of Making School a Game Worth Playing, Ryan Schaaf and Nicky Mohan, write, “With the national focus on STEM education, gaming and multimedia production in schools provides students with essential skills that are coveted by employers in numerous fields.”
The Los Angeles Times recently published an op-ed piece questioning the gloomy predictions about the country’s dearth of scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. Although it may be unproductive to wail about less than perfect PISA scores, the majority of educators are coming to the realization that we need to rethink the former, silo-structured way of teaching towards a more real-world-based interdisciplinary approach that will better prepare students for the jobs they will encounter upon graduation.
It would be wonderful if every school engaged all students in learning by asking them to work creatively, both collaboratively and independently, on real-world projects that challenged their thinking. Ideally, school work would be similar to the work going on in laboratories, businesses, and research institutions. If students were asked to solve real-world problems in school, they would be more engaged in their learning, retain more information and problem-solving skills, and take more pride in the work that they do. If schools taught skills more in line with the real world, then the transition from school to career would be more seamless. Jonathan Gerlach, a former teacher currently working on federal education policy on Capitol Hill, writes, “Technology in industry is about thinking outside the box and using materials to solve problems . . . Problem-solving and developing quick and cost-effective solutions on the go are what industry is seeking in the next-generation workforce.”
There are excellent teachers doing this work in schools around the country. Teachers like Dan Meyer who eschew textbooks and instead create lesson plans that teach students to seek out information on their own, discuss a variety of solutions with their classmates, and discover how messy problem solving can be in the real world. For an enjoyable lesson on an innovative way to teach math, watch Meyer’s TED talk, Math class needs a makeover.
Corwin is looking for authors who are experts in teaching others how to integrate science, math, technology, and engineering in innovative and successful ways. We look forward to hearing from you!
How have you incorporated STEM practices into your classroom? Tell us in the comments.
Gerlach, J. (2012). STEM: Defying a Simple Definition. NSTA. Retrieved on April 22, 2014 from http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=59305.
Meyer, D. (2010). Math class needs a makeover. TED Talk. Retrieved on April 22, 2014 from https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.
Schaaf, R. & Mohan, N. (2014). Making School a Game Worth Playing: Digital Games in the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Teitelbaum, M.S. (April 20, 2014). Is the U.S. losing the tech race? When it comes to scientists and engineers, the U.S. is well supplied. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on April 22, 2014 http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-teitelbaum-stem-fears-20140420,0,120851.story#ixzz2zfEBPGtD.
Tsupros, N., Kohler, R., & Hallinen, J. (2009). STEM education: A project to identify the missing components. Intermediate Unit 1: Center for STEM Education and Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania.