Bioscience

Momentum building nationwide on STEM education

August 17, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Laura Devaney, Senior Editor, eSchool News

As part of the Obama administration’s emphasis on bringing education into the 21st century, it comes as no surprise that policy makers have trained their focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education as a way to give more students, especially girls and minorities, stronger global skills.

And with this increased focus, some education experts say momentum is building for more recognition of the “T” and “E” in STEM–technology and engineering, two subjects often overlooked. In fact, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), part of the National Research Council, recently completed a report that surveys the extent and nature of efforts to teach engineering to K-12 students in the United States.

The report is set to be released Sept. 8. The report, “Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects,” defines what engineering is, because many people don’t understand much about the career, and also discusses research and evidence on the impact of engineering education on areas such as improved science and math learning and improved technological literacy, said Greg Pearson, an NAE program officer and the study’s leader.

Also covered in the report are what engineering concepts children are able to understand, and at what age, along with a detailed analysis of about 15 curriculum projects identified by the study team, which also examined how those different curricula treat engineering. “One of the findings is that discussions of STEM tend to be focused on science, sometimes math, rarely both together–usually they’re siloed, and the T and especially the E are really just left out of the discussion in policy, education, and classroom practice,” Pearson said.

“Even though we use that acronym, in terms of what’s really happening and what people really mean, engineering is the silent letter.”

To read the full article: Momentum building nationwide on STEM education