Join the thousands of parents and supporters of Missouri's public schools to learn what you can do to help!

Everything listed under: STEM

  • Who Better to Evaluate our K-12 STEM Programs than American Scientists


    The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of scientists and the general population to help understand how science and public opinion intersect. Pew surveyed general American citizens and scientists affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Survey questions asked for their thoughts on everything from STEM education to climate change to the genetically modified foods.

    The results were fascinating, but the specific results that stood out the most to us were those that showed what American scientists think about American K-12 STEM education. Who better to evaluate STEM education than the very scientists who work in STEM fields today?

    STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM has made national news over the last few years because students who study in STEM-related degree programs during college are likely to earn more money in their careers. This income gap is sustained for STEM majors, regardless of whether they pursue work in a STEM-related field.

    Most American high school students don’t graduate high school ready to study university-level science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. This lack of preparation — and the resulting lack of qualified candidates for STEM-industry jobs — is referred to as the STEM Crisis.

    Pew’s research project didn’t set out to prove or disprove the existence of a crisis in STEM education, but the results of its survey could absolutely be used to advance advocacy for STEM education: Nearly half of American scientists believe that K-12 STEM education is “below average” compared to K-12 STEM education in other industrialized nations.

    What will it take for America’s public schools (and Missouri’s public schools) to take the lead in global STEM education? What will it take for us to send our high school seniors off to college, fully prepared to excel in college-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes? Missouri Parent doesn’t have all the answers, but we will continue to research and write about the importance of STEM education in Missouri public schools.

    Here are a few of the takeaways from the Pew study:

    · Only 16% of AAAS scientists rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
    · Just 29% of the general public rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
    · A whopping 46% of AAAS scientists believe that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
    · 29% of the general public believes that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
    · Scientists also believe that the general public’s limited scientific knowledge is a result of poor K-12 STEM education.

    You can read the Pew Research Center’s report (which is the source of all statistics used in this Missouri Parent post) here.

    More Missouri Parent Posts About STEM Education:
    What is the STEM Crisis?
    Girl Scout Embrace STEM
    A Missouri University Embracing STEM Education for Public Schools
    INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Women and STEM

    Missouri Parent is a free service for anyone in Missouri who has an interest in public education. Come back to the MOParent Blog, check MOParent News, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates and timely information about public education and the funding and legislative issues affecting it.

  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Women and STEM

  • STEMtheGAP™ Teacher Challenge Gives $100,000 to Schools

    The Dow Chemical Company is giving away $100,000 in grants to K-12 classrooms nationwide whose teachers share their ideas about closing the gap between STEM education and STEM careers in the United States.

    The initiative is called the Dow STEMtheGAP™ Teacher Challenge, and it’s designed “to mobilize teachers, students, businesses, and government to address challenges facing education.” (source)

    All teachers, regardless of their subject areas or content specialties, are invited to enter the contest. Dow will award 100 grants of $1,000 each. 25 grants will be awarded this spring, 25 will be awarded in the summer, and 50 more will be awarded in the fall.

    To enter, just tell Dow what the biggest challenge you face in STEM education is, and share an idea with Dow about how you’d change STEM education if you could. (Entry is limited to K-12 teachers.) All responses will be reviewed by the Center for Science Teaching and Learning. Submissions must be received by May 16th, 2014.

    Follow the Dow STEMtheGAP™ Teacher Challenge on Facebook or tweet about the challenge using the hashtag #STEMtheGAP.

  • Math: The Most Important Subject in School?

    If you ask Americans what the most important subject was that they studied in school, they’re most likely to answer “math”. While that may be the most popular answer, the value Americans place on math varies based on both gender and education.

    Men vs. Women
    When men and women are asked what subject was “the most valuable subject studied in school”, they answer differently. Men are most likely to say that math was their most valuable subject, while women will answer that English/Literature/Reading was the most valuable.

    Men and women disagree on other subjects, as well. Science (including biology and physics) took second place and English (including literature and reading) took third place among men. Women, however, ranked math second and science third.

    This, of course, begs the question: Why is math more valuable to men than to women? Is it because more men pursue careers that utilize mathematics? Or maybe men are intuitively more inclined to value a quantitative subject more highly than a qualitative one?

    High School, College, or More
    A fascinating result of the study, which was conducted in 2013 by Gallup, is that as educational attainment increases, poll takers said math was less valuable and English was more valuable.

    For example: Of survey respondents who had a high school education (or less), 43% said math was their most valuable subject. The percentage respondents who had gone on to earn post-graduate degrees and who felt that math was their most valuable subject dropped to 19%.

    The reverse is true for English: Only 19% of respondents who held high school diplomas or less valued English as their most valuable subject in school while 25% of respondents with post-graduate degrees said that English was their most valuable subject.

    What do you think? Is math the most important you learned in school or that your kids are learning right now? Leave a comment – we’d love to know what you think!

    evaluating our education
  • Girl Scouts Embrace STEM

    The Girl Scouts of the USA are taking a proactive role in teaching girls STEM studies and encouraging them to pursue STEM careers. Studies conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute have shown that girls have a high interest in STEM careers, but that they need more exposure to those fields. The Girl Scouts are addressing that need through Leadership Journeys, Proficiency Badges, and strategic partnerships.

    Leadership Journeys help girls discover their special skills and talents, connect with others (forming strong teams and healthy relationships), and take action to make the world a better place. By going on Leadership Journeys Girl Scouts explore a variety of interests and learn what they’re most interest in and passionate about. The three series of Leadership Journeys that girls choose from are “It’s Your World – Change It!”, “It’s Your Planet – Love It!”, and “It’s Your Story – Tell It!”.

    Girl Scouts don’t stop with discovering interests and passions: Badges help girls learn about and develop proficiencies in specific topics. The Girl Scouts recently revamped badges to have a stronger focus on 21st-Century skills including STEM-related subject areas. Examples include badges called Naturalist, Digital Arts, Science and Technology, Innovation, and Financial Literacy.

    The Girl Scouts have also formed partnerships and sponsorships with STEM-related organizations like NASA, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Ingersoll Rand. Those relationships provide key funding and unique development opportunities for Girl Scouts who are interested in STEM-specific studies. “Imagine Engineering”, for example, is funded by the National Science Foundation and offers low-income girls and girls in underserved communities the chance to “experience STEM and plan for futures in STEM fields.” (source)

    The FIRST program is another great example. Co-sponsored by Motorola, UTC, Google, and Dell, the program “gives girls access to materials and mentors so that they can explore fields such as robotics and information technology in greater depth.” (source)

    To learn more about Girl Scouts’ research, visit the Girl Scout Research Institute online. For a quick overview of the organization’s research on girls and STEM studies, read this summary of the study, “Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math”.

  • A Missouri University Advancing STEM Education for Public Schools

    In previous posts, we have discussed the importance of STEM. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    Students are arriving to college unprepared for college level STEM courses. And in an era defined by technological growth and innovation, students who succeed in STEM careers will drive the future — and earn more money than non-STEM workers — doing it.

    STEM education also struggles to recruit and retain qualified teachers to teach elementary and secondary school STEM classes. Qualified STEM teachers — who are often one of a very small number of STEM professionals in a school district — often feel isolated and under-stimulated, leaving education for STEM professions that offer a stronger sense of community.

    “In 2009, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future reported that nearly half of all new K-12 teachers leave the profession within their first five years. For science teachers…up to 40 percent leave the profession in the first three years, depending on the school district.” -source

    Washington University in St. Louis is working to change those trends by offering a masters degree program that’s designed for high school biology teachers.

    The masters program was created from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Math and Science Partnership Teacher Institute seed grant, and some of its original goals included reinvigorating teachers, expanding their knowledge, and reminding them how exciting modern biology can be.

    The program, run by the Institute for School Partnership (ISP), is working. One of its sustaining benefits is that teachers who complete the program leave with a network of colleagues who help them feel connected and supported in their careers as educators. That sense of community may help schools retain STEM teachers, and it’s already helping students whose teachers have completed Washington University’s masters degree program.

    Phyllis Balcerzak, PhD, is the associate director of ISP. She tracks the professional networks developed by teachers who complete the masters program, and she says that they remain intact for years after graduation. She has also tracked the classroom successes of teachers who’ve completed the degree. After teachers attend the masters program, their students’ test scores show concrete and steady improvement. (source)

    Professional development and peer networks for STEM teachers are key to keeping great teachers in the field. And keeping great teachers in the field is key to the success Missouri’s K-12 students will have in college level STEM classes and beyond.

    Do you enjoy reading about issues like the STEM crisis and how Missourians are helping to address them?

  • What is the STEM Crisis?

    STEM stands for “science, technology, engineering and math”, and research suggests that students who complete STEM degree programs in college are likely to earn more, whether or not they work in a STEM-related field.

    One of the leading STEM universities in the nation is here in Missouri. A 2013 U.S. News & World Report study explored which of its own 2013 Best Colleges-ranked schools distributed the largest portion of bachelor’s degrees (as a percentage of total degrees) in science, technology, engineering and math. The Missouri University of Science & Technology was ranked third in the study; only California Institute of Technology and Colorado School of Mines outranked Missouri S & T.

    This is great for Missouri, right? Well, sort of. The problem is that there’s a lot of research out there showing that American K-12 students — including our students here in the Show-Me State— aren’t arriving to college prepared for university-level math and science classes.

    According to the Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition, “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) plays a significant part in our [Missouri’s] ability to effectively compete in this new age. This is why investing in STEM education at all levels from early childhood to postsecondary education, specifically targeting advancement in student engagement and preparedness is paramount for having a high-skilled workforce ready to compete and thrive in the 21st century global economy.”

    And the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI) has devoted an entire webpage to sharing information about the STEM Crisis and why it’s imperative for the nation, and for our students, that they receive quality STEM education in schools. Timothy Huneycutt, a representative of NMSI says, “The STEM crisis is a very real issue, and it is of paramount importance that we solve it.” (Source)

    If you’re like many parents, you hope that your child is successful in school and in life. Your son’s or daughter’s foundational learning in STEM studies are incredibly important, especially if he or she might someday want to pursue a STEM-related college degree or career path.

    For more information on STEM education, continue to visit us on the Missouri Parent Blog, or consider signing up for Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

3550 Amazonas Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65109. 573-638-4825