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Are we in the midst of a STEM movement?

By Francis Eberle

Posted on 2012-03-09

NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle

NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle

Each day there seems to be more focus and discussion about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. The volume of comments in the various social media forums seems to have really taken off:  in the first few hours the other morning I was reading the discussion on one of our blogs about starting a STEM school in China and about the need to better prepare students. An electronic newsletter that came across my desk highlighted new STEM programs, schools and funding in Texas, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Ohio, Arizona, and California.
This is not unusual. In an average week NSTA gets several requests to participate in an event, a forum or a media interview about STEM.  The discussion often centers on a specific topic within STEM, such as science education, the introduction of engineering, elementary science, and what, exactly, is a STEM school.
But I’m beginning to wonder:  is this just “buzz”—or is it an indication that schools really are focusing more on STEM?
After talking with teachers this past week I don’t think this is true. In far too many local schools, science is still not given adequate time and the amount of instruction time is actually being reduced. Topics in mathematics are generally not a part of the STEM conversations. School resources are still very tight which means acquiring new materials for teaching science is more difficult.
At the federal level Race to the Top funds and Investing in Innovation (I3) projects are supposed to include STEM as a focus. The state Math and Science Partnership funds are supporting STEM projects in every state. There are privately supported STEM school networks in at least 6 states and there are a number of state STEM coalitions working to improve STEM education. State Governors talk about STEM as important to their states.
It would be great to hear if STEM fever is something that you are involved in or has reached you? Let us know by taking a quick poll on the STEM education in your state.

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