A Quick Point About STEM

I’ll be heading out this Tuesday to New Orleans for the NSTA STEM Forum. On Thursday I’ll be presenting: “STEM What Does That Really Look Like In A Classroom.” It’s a presentation I’ve done a number of times in various versions.

Basically I share examples right out of my classroom (and other teacher’s classrooms my students and I have collaborated with over the years). A major point I make is that STEM is language intense and a very powerful language arts intervention (You’ll have to see my presentation to learn how). A truly integrated STEM approach should make connections in every subject, and that is why I promote STEM as a broad, rich, inclusive curriculum. Note that I also mention that I don’t care if we call it STEM … to me anything that brings back a broad, rich, inclusive curriculum after so many years of a narrowed to very narrowed curriculum is OK with me.

Many of the schools I serve, especially the schools that have recently become STEM schools or academies , have also been schools that have experienced the most narrowing of their curriculum. STEM gives them “permission” to bring those subjects back, a big part of my job is facilitating them in doing so.

However, I’ve had conversations with teachers and parents that have had negative experiences with STEM. They explain that when STEM learning was introduced at their site that the arts and other subjects were virtually removed from the curriculum and the STEM subjects were given all the focus (science, technology, engineering and math). ┬áIn general this approach misses the point of STEM learning. I point to Leonardo da Vinci as one example of a STEM scholar. He integrated the STEM subjects with the arts, including music. A truly integrated approach that emphasizes the connections between subjects and fields of study should be the goal of a STEM program.

Any thoughts?

Learning is messy!


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One Response to A Quick Point About STEM

  1. Brian,
    One issue I have with STEM and mathematics is that some teachers act as though STEM just means harder mathematics and not pulling ideas from science INTO mathematics. This is a big idea for me and one I am working on actively. Do you have any suggestions?

    From Brian – Hi Glenn – In your case teaching high school math, getting data from the science teachers to analyze during math class would be the way to go. I know that is not easy – would mean science and math teachers would have to meet to plan lessons that would be advantageous to both. How can the science teachers offer hands on science that generates data that fits in with the math you are teaching. You would really be leveraging each other … they don’t have to spend as much time with the data beyond what is pertinent to what they are teaching and/or you can go deeper with real data the students gathered themselves … so they are connected to the data as opposed to getting from the math book or lesson … it’s their data. AND of course wouldn’t be great if the english department then used the experience to write about in some way. Even if this happened to some degree a few times a year it would demonstrate to students to how the different subjects are connected. Does that help?

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