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Articles: STEM

Teaching math in middle school is challenging! Teachers deal with adolescent volatility, a wide variance in student ability, and a surprisingly sophisticated set of mathematical ideas. Adding to these challenges, the new Common Core assessments probe students’ understanding of mathematical concepts at a depth not previously widespread on State tests.

Mia Dubosarsky, director of PD at The STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, helps teachers teach science.

From designing more creative and flexible science classrooms to developing community service projects that engage girls in STEM, this year’s National Science Teachers Association conference in March is all about K12 students connecting learning to the real world. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and an accompanying push for hands-on learning is bringing new ways to think about integrating science—and scientific thinking—into everyday experiences.

Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers has partnered with local businesses to create a multifaceted STEM program.

Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers has worked with his board and administrators, and partnered with local businesses, to create a multifaceted program to bolster STEM education. His city was founded by the U.S. government in 1943 as a secret production site for the Manhattan Project and is steeped in technology to this day.

As increasing STEM teaching and learning continue to be goals of many districts, administrators are looking for tools that help encourage more students to pursue future careers in these fields.

The New Lenox School District 122 serves 5,400 pre-K through grade 8 students in 12 schools, and is located about 30 miles outside Chicago. The district has been noted for its high levels of achievement, with an average of 85 percent of students meeting or exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards in each of the last nine years. New Lenox administrators attribute this success to a rigorous curriculum that includes reading, writing and math, as well as instruction in art, music and technology skills.

In November, middle school students from around the globe had the chance to take photos of Earth from the International Space Station. Sally Ride EarthKAM is a program meant to spark student interest in STEM subjects through photographing the earth from space.

Students at Charles County Public Schools in Maryland are now exposed to computer science curriculum starting in kindergarten.

In 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in the United States and only 400,000 computer science students in the education pipeline.

But the number of students may slowly be increasing, as 25 states now count computer science courses toward high school graduation requirements, compared to 11 states in 2013.

Using community engagement, professional development, custom curricula and digital resources, the leaders of Oak Ridge Schools in Tennessee hope to transform the district into a recognized leader in STEM education.

Students in all grade levels have been using robotics in the classroom at Fayette County Schools in Kentucky.

Many districts are charging up their K12 STEM courses with the use of robotics. The clear benefits of robotics are increased student engagement and collaboration—but there’s more.

Students following a project-based, inquiry curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) outperformed their peers who received traditional instruction, according to a National Science Foundation study released last spring.

High school students work to defend their computer network at this spring’s CyberPatriot cybersecurity competition in Washington, D.C.

CyberPatriot is all about protecting U.S. interests, and the heroes are teams of high school students. The bad guys (imaginary, in this case) are hackers who would try to disrupt power grids, banking, health care, transportation systems and other vital services.

Schools that can’t afford to compete with the private sector in hiring technology specialists are looking to other options, such as hiring part-time experts, bringing in volunteers or finding funds to retrain teachers.

Technology is revolutionizing the study of science in K12. New products for chemistry, biology and physics labs allow more engaging and, in some cases, safer experiments.

Following the BYOD and 1-to-1 trend, many of these products come with mobile apps so students can take their inquiries outside the classroom and analyze data instantly in the field.

By 2018, Florida will have 411,000 STEM-related jobs, fourth highest among the 50 states, and nine out of 10 jobs created in the state before the end of the decade will be in STEM-related fields.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were finalized in April 2013 after a lengthy research and development process by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Achieve and a group of 26 states. Not a set of curricula, the NGSS serves to provide teachers with guidelines for teaching practical, more in-depth science.

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