26 Replies Latest reply on Nov 12, 2011 8:51 AM by axel_reitzig@msn.com

    STEM in your schools?

      Hello everyone,

      I would like to start a new discussion on the topic of STEM.

      I am curious to know what initiatives your schools/districts are under taking under the title of STEM.


      How are these programs/initiatives being implemented, sustained and who is teaching them?


      For those of you who are teaching Science, do you find that equal time and/or resources are being given to the S of STEM?


      I look forward to your comments.

      Jude Kesl

        • Re: STEM in your schools?



          You made a direct hit to my heart! I teach science full time in the middle school setting. After school hours, I am my district's science specialist. We have a fairly large district (about 50 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 10 high schools.) We do a lot of collaboration between teachers that teach the same subject. Several schools (including mine) provide after school activities for students to "do science." I, however, find that due to NCLB testing requirements the focus remains on Math and Language Arts. I agree that knowing how to read and write is essential in today's world. Math, IMHO, is the language of science. I've been able to write a grant providing technology tools for our middle schools and high schools. At first a quarter of a million dollars sounded like a lot of money. In the way the grant was written, however, it provides a minimum of new computers and probes for schools. Those schools who have received the equipment and training are excited to put it to work. Students in those schools are understanding the relationship between science labs and mathematical models. I think we have a LONG way to go in making sure that the S in STEM receives its understanding of importance.

            • Re: STEM in your schools?


              Wow...you are a busy guy! We are having issues with courses that are coming in under "STEM" titles, but are requiring a certified science teacher to teach them, which is pulling them away from regular courses, for which we are already short on certified teachers. This is mostly at the high school level, but is also happening at middle school.


              Are you having the same pulls and pushes?


                • Re: STEM in your schools?



                  Our High School courses are "approved" at the state level. A High School may request to add a course - the district has an approval process that then leads to the state dept. of ed. Final decision on course approval falls at the state level. The state dept. of ed. also determines what certification(s) are needed to teach the course. So far, there have been no new STEM courses added in my district - or anywhere in the state to the best of my knowledge. (Since I serve on the state Science Coordinating Council, I would expect to know of any requests.) I've initiated some statewide discussions about possible STEM courses - but there have been no programs accepted yet. Personally, I would love to see the addition of some Engineering type classes at both the Middle School and High School level. I'd suggest these could be "options" for students - thus freeing up teachers, not requiring the hiring of new people.

                    • Re: STEM in your schools?


                      It is interesting how things vary from state to state. Not teaching High School...I just know a little but the district and the state have been working on course codes and making sure the course descriptions are consistent from school to school course to course. One of the new courses is Biomedical technology and requires that it be taught by a science teacher yet is produced by the same group that creates the Project Lead The Way courses and materials. The teacher training is quite rigorous and intense. Currently they are science electives, but do require some fancy scheduling to work into the course lists.

                        • Re: STEM in your schools?



                          The concept of a Biomedical Technology class sounds like something many of my students would enjoy taking when they enter High School. I can see why the course needs a science teacher (and recognize the extensive training needed to teach the class.) It is interesting to recognize the value of this kind of an elective science course. I also recognize and wonder how such classes will cut into the ability of teachers to meet the demands of teaching the number of expected regular science courses. I look forward to hearing more on this important subject.

                      • Re: STEM in your schools?

                        We have the same problem here.

                    • Re: STEM in your schools?

                      This was just posted on our Wisconsin listserv and I wanted to share with all of you this unique opportunity for STEM training.  Please note- there may be additional training's in your state as well.  Please contact  ksvoboda@usatoday.com  to see if this opportunity is located near you too.


                      Hello Wisconsin Educators!




                      This Fall 2010, USA TODAY Education and the Air  Force Association has a FREE program available toS.T.E.M. teachers. The program includes copies of USA TODAY for your class oncea week and FREE S.T.E.M. related lesson plansdesigned to national teaching standards for middle/high schools. The program issponsored by the Wisconsin chapter of the Air Force Association.




                      Right now we are accepting interested teachers as  the program does have limited space for fall 2010. 




                      Please note that if you are interested you MUST fit the following parameters:




                      -          Teach science, technology, engineering and/or math


                      -          Teach middle or high school


                      -          Be located in the Milwaukee or Milwaukee Metro area suburbs


                      -          At the end of the program you will need to fill out a 10 question survey




                      If you are interested in this FREEprogram, please email me at ksvoboda@usatoday.com with your full contact information (we will not accept your interest unless complete contact information is provided).  Please also list in the email subject line:AFA




                      Your name:


                      School  Name:


                      School  Address:










                      Subject  Taught:




                      We will contact you in early fall with program  start dates etc. PLEASE, again only submit your information if you are located in  the Milwaukee or Milwaukee area suburbs. At this time the program is not open to other  parts of the state.




                      Have a great day and terrific rest of the school  year!




                      Kim Svoboda


                      USA TODAY


                      National Accounts Director, Education


                      (516) 924-1355 (Direct Number)


                      (516) 484-7510 ext. 627 (Office)



                      • Re: STEM in your schools?

                        I have just emerged from our district science fair, whewwwwwww, so am catching up with our discussion.


                        Could some of you who work more in elementary levels share what you are seeing in terms of STEM integration.

                        Do teachers seem to be aware of STEM and working to include topics that are integrated? Are you seeing teachers do this on their own, or are their programs they are being directed to use? How are you encouraging teachers to become involved?

                          • Re: STEM in your schools?

                            Jude, congrats on surviving your district science fair. I am currently at the International Science and Engineering Fair (1600 participants) where I have to think to pronounce many of the science terms!


                            I am also attending the Educator Academy and have tweeted comments and ideas about this event. If you check twitter for the hashtag #ISEF2010 or #EdAcademy you should find the ideas. One of my favorites was how a Science Fair should not be and "EVENT" but a "CELEBRATION" of what has been done in the classroom all year long.


                            How do you see your district's science fair influencing students in STEM education through the coming years?

                            • Re: STEM in your schools?

                              I currently work at a science and math magnet school. Our school is unique in our area because students have the opportunity to go to our science lab and participate in problem based STEM labs weekly. This is our second year having a science lab and it seems that the students truly enjoy it and benefit from being able to explore and discover various scientific concepts. In the general classrooms, teachers also conduct various science and engineering experiments/projects. We are currently working on building up our technology component and are therefore revisioning our magnet program towards technology for the upcoming school years. Our goal is to put more technology into the hands of our students so that they have 21st century tools that can be used to help them better understand all subject areas.

                                • Re: STEM in your schools?



                                  I'm interested in hearing more about your school's plans. What kinds of technology do you plan to put into your student's hands in the coming year(s)? What plans has your school made to address 21st Century Skills as well as 21st Century technology?

                                • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                  Howdy from Austin, Texas. I happened to bump into a friend who I had taught with several years ago. We were catching up on things and I mentioned that next school year I would be teaching three fourth grade classes rather than two, so my time per class would be down from about 2 hours and 15 minutes to 1 and a half hours. I teach math and science and was trying to figure out how I was going to do that in 90 minutes. I brought up STEM and she said that her school was going to be piloting a STEM curriculum. I do know there are after school STEM programs in middle and high school in AISD; I don't know the extent during the day. In elementary, it looks like there will be a few schools piloting a STEM program; the effectiveness won't be know for a while.


                                  I brought up STEM because I though it would be a good way to integrate math and science given my shortened class time. Regardless, I do know that I will be teaching less science than in previous years.

                                • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                  Anyone participating in National Lab Day tomorrow?  Having a day devoted to Labs across the country sounds fascinating.  I remember when we ran a math and science day - all the teachers signed up to present different topics - and the students registered for various classes - it was a mixture of 6th, 7th and 8th graders in each class all focusing on areas of math and science they were interested in.  It took a lot of work to set up - but the success was priceless.  I still have the kaleidoscope that I made with the students that day.


                                  Has anyone else done a math and science day?

                                    • Re: STEM in your schools?



                                      This is a great post because I was just thinking about National Lab Day and what sorts of things would be happening in classrooms. Back when I taught middle school we used to host a Science Challenge Day, which eventually evolved into a Family Science Night activity. We used Sandia National Laboratories as a resource for planning the activities- http://www.sandia.gov/ciim/FSN/. The science teachers would sponsor hands on stations at which students and parents could engage in inquiry activities. It was awesome because Exxon would send engineers and other scientists to help at each station. The students would get extra credit for participation and also gain a new perspective about science.

                                      • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                        Here is the link to the National Lab Day website-  http://www.nationallabday.org/.

                                          • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                            Unfortunately my school's science department cannot participate in National Lab Day today. We will, instead, be doing our mandated State testing. In the long run, which should have the greatest impact on a student's life? The best news for me is that my students basically do a lab every week - we just have to miss this one .


                                            Please post information on what your schools and districts are doing for National Lab Day today so we can all share ideas.

                                              • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                                Hello again,

                                                We were not able to schedule anything for today, exactly Lab Day, but we did use the National Lab Day site to help find judges for our district science fair. The judges were very excited and happy to help. We were able to have some conversations to establish new relationships to support STEM in our schools. For example, one STEM program involves BioTechnology and some of our new connections through the National Lab Day site are from the local Medical College in the genetics area.


                                                Also, if you do have an event the Lab Day site wants pictures, and is running a video contest for $1500.  Check it out.


                                          • workshop opportunity regarding STEM

                                            I just received a blurb about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing workshop geared towards K-12 Teachers on "Overcoming the Barriers, Boundaries and Bad News" 


                                            The application is due on May 24 - so if you are interested don't delay.  If anyone applies and attends this event in October I would love to hear what you take away from it.

                                            • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                              Hi Everyone,

                                              It is that time of year when we are all trying to wrap things up, yet plan ahead for next year. If you could create a new unique program around STEM related topics, given unlimited funds and resources (dream big here as you never know where dreams can go) what would you like to do?


                                                • Re: STEM in your schools?



                                                  You've asked my favorite kind of question. Unlimited funding and what would I do? I think the following is a minimum list I would propose:

                                                  1. Netbook or iPad in each student's hands (iPad if Vernier software and hardware can connect with it) - can be taken home each day!
                                                  2. Sets of the following Vernier sensors for each student to use:
                                                    • Barometer
                                                    • CO2
                                                    • Conductivity Probe
                                                    • Motion Detector
                                                    • pH Meter
                                                    • Spectrometer
                                                    • Temperature
                                                  3. Digital Camera for each student
                                                  4. Flip Video camera for each student
                                                  5. USB Microphone Headphone for each student
                                                  6. Large server for providing student interaction on Moodle, and sharing student and teacher podcasts.
                                                  7. NO district mandates on what Web 2.0 software is allowed! (I can wish can't I?)


                                                  What do you think I've missed from this list? How do we go about trying to convince Administrators that this equipment is NOT a "Wish List" but rather a "Requirement List."

                                                • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                                  A lot of talking, but not much action in Virginia

                                                  • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                                    We are fortunate in Danville, Virginia, that in our school district we have a facility---the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research--which received a grant to provide a STEM Mobile Learning Lab (STEM ML2) to advance K-12  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education by providing  hands-on training and activities and professional development  opportunities for regional teachers and students. See a description of this project at http://ialr.org/education/470.


                                                    • Interesting...

                                                      From the summary of  the statistical report of how U.S. Education compares to that of other G8  Countries:  http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012007.pdf


                                                      The United States  awarded the lowest percentage (15 percent) of first university degrees in  science, mathematics, and engineering-related fields among all the G-8 countries  in 2008. In the other G-8 countries, the percentages ranged from 22 percent in  Canada and Italy to 29 percent in Germany.

                                                      Average performance

                                                      The Program for  International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international  assessments that measures 15-year-old  students’ performance in reading  literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy every 3 years.


                                                      On the PISA 2009 assessment,  the U.S. average score (500) on the reading literacy scale was lower than  the average scores in Canada (524) and Japan (520), not measurably different  from those in Germany (497), France (496), and the United Kingdom (494), and  higher than in Italy (486) and the Russian Federation (459) (indicator 5). From  2000 (the first time PISA reading was assessed) to 2009, the only measurable  change in students’ average performance in reading literacy was in Germany,  where the average score was 13 points higher in 2009 than in 2000 (indicator  8).4.

                                                      In mathematics literacy, the  U.S. average score (487) was lower than the average scores in Japan (529),  Canada (527), Germany (513), and France (497); not measurably different from  those in the United Kingdom (492) and Italy (483); and higher than in the  Russian Federation (468) (indicator 5). From 2003 (the first time the current  PISA mathematics assessment was administered) to 2009, measurable changes in  students’ average scores in mathematics literacy occurred in France (where the  average score was 14 points lower in 2009 than in 2003), Germany (where the  average score was 10 points higher in 2009 than in 2003), and Italy (where the  average score was 17 points higher in 2009 than in 2003) (indicator 8).5

                                                      In science literacy, the U.S.  average score (502) was lower than the average scores in Japan (539), Canada  (529), Germany (520), and the United Kingdom (514); not measurably different  from the average score in France (498); and higher than those in Italy (489) and  the Russian Federation (478) (indicator 5). From 2006 (the first administration  of the current PISA science assessment) to 2009, the only measurable changes in  students’ average scores in science literacy were in Italy and the United  States, which had higher average scores in 2009 than in 2006 (13 points higher  for both countries) (indicator 8).


                                                      Expenditures for  education

                                                      In 2007, the total  expenditures per student and the portion of these expenditures devoted to core  education services were higher in the United States than in all other G-8  countries with data reported at the combined primary and secondary education  levels and the higher education level (data on core education services not  reported for Japan and the Russian Federation).9 The total expenditures per  student in the United States were about $10,800 at the combined primary and  secondary education levels and about $27,000 at the higher education level10  (indicators 15 and 16).

                                                      • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                                        Various STEM Lesson/Resources



                                                        • Re: STEM in your schools?

                                                          Here’s a new take on the STEM applications.  Booklist has a feature on “Cooking with STEM”—teaching children math and science in the kitchen: