The STEMx Education Conference was a promising three day online conference. The world’s first globally open online conference. An ideal setting with potential to connect professionals around the globe.
Unfortunately, STEMx Conference fell short of its promise to truly discuss STEM education. Apart from a couple of resourceful sessions on teaching project based science, a large majority of sessions were infomercials that had nothing to do with STEM.
In the end, it would be fair to say that there is no knowledge of any sort of uniform STEM application across grades, states, or curriculum. The application and implementation of STEM will depend largely on the types of resources in the community and the ability of the school system and the professional STEM resources (professionals form the field) to create partnerships in effort to create STEM project based learning.
STEM curriculum and content will vary widely from school to school. While some schools will focus on “blue collar” STEM certificates and projects, other schools will implement college readiness STEM projects.
Yet, what STEM looks like in a classroom as of right now is anyone’s guess. The implementation of cross content curriculum will has to be worked out and suited for various grades, schools, and STEM levels.
Whatever the case, the most important grassroots of STEM curriculum and implementation has to be at the elementary level, which is the most troubling. At the elementary level, we have the largest body of teachers, 1.6 million teachers, who are expected to teach science to developing minds. However, most of elementary school teachers don’t feel prepared to effectively teach science.
Most of them have only had one or two science classes during their undergraduate studies that took place long time ago. As a result, research shows that most elementary school teachers, shy away from teaching science, spend small amount of time on it, and/or perpetuate misconceptions about science which are hard to overcome in higher grades.
If STEM is to work, it has to be embraced by teachers. And for teachers to feel comfortable teaching STEM, they should be provided with constructive and ongoing professional development, as well as, rich curriculum content.