Inspiring kids to pursue STEM education is more than just a good idea—the economic viability of our country's future nearly depends on it. A new Web video series, Advanced Technological Education Television (ATETV), does just this by showing students where their interests in math and science can lead them in terms of a college education and careers. Supported with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program began by partnering with community colleges nationwide and teaming up with technological industry employers. The Association of Interactive Media Education (AIME), a nonprofit organization that helps other organizations utilize technology for teaching, then received an ATE grant to create ATETV to give students a visual example of potential careers and see what these courses would look like in the classroom. ATETV just received a second grant from NSF to produce 40 more videos.
"We saw that these colleges were doing really cutting edge things, but they didn't have time to show people what they were doing," says Julie Rivinus, executive director of the AIME. "We wanted to create an awareness of ATE. A lot of students have an interest in these studies, but they don't know where to go with those interests."
ATETV videos include a wide variety of topics, such as video games, environmentalism, medicine, aviation, and laser technology. Video segments may profile student internships, feature industry speakers in the field, or demonstrate activities students engage in inside the college classroom. Rivinus says another main focus is to break stereotypes and encourage these studies for both women and minorities.
According to Rivinus, AIME explored different social media platforms to determine how to best deliver information to their target audience and then developed the video concept. "Kids at this age are accustomed to videos that move quickly, are energetic, short, and engaging," says Rivinus. "These are visual examples and real-life documentaries. There's really nothing else out there right now like it."
Encouragement for these studies has been apparent from both the federal and private sectors, says Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association. According to Eberle, these fields are growing and there is a need for people who don't necessarily have a doctorate but do have a high understanding of science and math.
"To have an outlet such as television that shows the workings of various types of jobs is terrific," says Eberle. "These are tools for guidance counselors to help students know what goes on in STEM fields." Moreover, he says, it's important to find different ways to excite students about these careers. "Teachers need to remember that these are people with their whole lives ahead of them. They're looking for ways to make a difference."
ATETV videos are free to view, and a new episode is released every Monday. To view them, visit www.atetv.org.