Why is STEM education important?
Reports have been coming out highlighting the existence of what experts are calling “STEM deserts“, or communities that lack the proper tools and STEM curriculum to get their students properly prepared for STEM-focused careers. When we talk about the computer science being future proof and set goals to build a nation of Makers it seems that all too often a huge proportion of communities, schools, and students are missing out. I refuse to believe it is because administrators and parents don’t care, or that they aren’t worried that by 2020 nearly 2/3rds of all jobs will need a college STEM-focused degree. It’s that STEM education lesson plans that are engaging and well thought out are scarce or expensive.
Why is there such a large disparity in STEM curriculum for elementary, middle and high school beginning to grow? Budgets and availability.
Often schools in wealthier neighborhoods have the means and desire to outfit their schools with 3D printers, robotics teams, computer labs, AP classes and more. Even at the elementary levels, the disparity begins. When some kids have access to specialist time in STEM, learning to code on iPads as young as Kindergarten, becoming engineers and research scientists by the first grade, while others have access to the bare minimum – box science, or bare minimum STEM curriculum kits, that are neither captivating nor necessarily memorable, is it any wonder that these science education deserts exist?
The best science often costs money. Money to purchase expensive curriculum, and even more money to purchase the materials for the programs. At Rosie Research, I don’t think kids science activities and STEM engagement should break the bank. I don’t think it should be hard to implement and require the procurement of tons of supplies. I believe that STEM resources for teachers should be easily available. That is why the STEM lesson plans we create is downloadable. For pennies on the dollar, schools can gain access to richer content that engages students in the scientific process.
The idea of students across the nation getting a sub-par STEM education purely because of their zip code has rallied me to stay up late at night, to present new ways of teaching, and to program more labs, like those that delve into circuit building, binary and imaging, pH chemistry, osmosis and carbon dating, and more. It is why I ponder better STEM teaching methods, why I think about how I can bring physical processes, like electrons going through a circuit, to an obstacle course students will remember. Just that one teaching method – one sheet of paper and some cones, and students can learn why resistors slow electrons down, how lights light up, what a current is, and the effect of a battery.
Bringing STEM curriculum to everyone is what pushes me to make mass spectrometers out of toy blocks, coins, and a hair dryer – modeling all of the physical concepts, and allowing in-depth learning and research.
While I can’t change budgets, infrastructure, or even teacher training, I can create easy to implement, cost-effective, science curriculum that evens the playing field – especially in the lower years. Everyone deserves a high-quality STEM education. Their futures and ours depend on it.
That’s what I believe. STEM curriculum for all. STEM curriculum that is accessible through easy to source supplies, and engaging teaching. That is why we work so hard to create valuable STEM teaching resources and STEM education lesson plans.