National STEM / STEAM Day occurred on November 8th. In the midst of the U.S. presidential election, it seemed to get lost in the mix.
STEM is a curriculum design focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It’s close cousin – STEAM is a curriculum framework focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Some view the inclusion of the arts, especially visual arts, inherent when involved in engineering (e.g., form, function, aesthetics). Others believe that fully articulated arts integration is essential to enhance a STEM curriculum.
Regardless, in curriculum evaluation, superintendents, school principals, and others involved in K-12 educational leadership must consider how their curriculum not only connects to education standards, differentiated instruction, advancements in instructional technology, but also how units of study can ensure STEM / STEAM experiences.
Schools and districts are not the only ones putting time and resources behind STEM. More and more corporations’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platforms provide money and human capital into STEM programs nationwide.
For instance, JetBlue through its foundation established in 2013, focuses on STEM education specifically to encourage students to think about careers in aviation. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) created “A World in Motion,” a standards-based STEM program for K-8 education that is administered by teachers who are assisted by volunteers in the industry.
General Motors supports FIRST, a program that focuses on building STEM skills and 21st century skills, such as teamwork, communication, and collaboration for students in grades K-12 through mentor-based robotics programs.
Cisco, Pepsico, BP, Sodexo, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Tata, Cengage Learning, Apollo Education Group, MIND Research Institute, UST Global, and other major companies have come together to form the STEMconnector. This was the first nationwide attempt to identify, classify, and analyze STEM programs across the U.S, especially those centered on women and minorities. They selected four areas of importance:
- Engaging the next generation in food and agricultural industry STEM-based careers.
- Supporting boundary-breaking collaborations between higher education and industry to meet the education and training needs of a global STEM workforce.
- Developing STEM human capital through innovation.
- Engaging one million STEM mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers through the Million Women Mentors program.
Since its creation in 2011, the alliance now includes 147 corporations, educational institutions, and nonprofits. Their directory includes 5,000+ STEM organization and programmatic profiles. Incredibly, STEMconnector identified one million students with an interest in STEM and mapped their educational journeys to STEM-related jobs in all 50 states.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), like many companies, see STEM as an investment in our future human capital. For K-12 education, this private-sector interest allows schools and districts nationwide to tap into a pool of resources and support structures outside of traditional public-sector funding.
For more information on how to fully incorporate STEM/STEAM-based learning, standards, and technology into your curriculum development, please contact me.