A great STEM education starts with teacher training
- In a Q&A with EdTech: Focus on K-12, Vince Bertram, president and CEO of the online STEM site Project Lead The Way, talks about how he trains teachers to apply STEM skills to real-world problems. Careers that require digital skills are growing, he says. Even old-fashioned assembly-line jobs, like those at car manufacturers, have changed as carmakers put computers into their vehicles, turning into technology companies.
- Students who use online resources to learn these skills — rather than textbooks — don’t just absorb science, technology, engineering and math lessons. They are also learning the digital tools required to pursue these fields in the future, Bertram says.
- Computer science, in particular, is a crucial subject to introduce to K-12 students, he says. There’s a sharp digital divide, with “large gender disparities” among students who sign up for these classes and that needs to change so all students have the necessary skills for tomorrow’s job market.
Today, it’s imperative that schools not only offer STEM-related classes, but encourage all their students take them. That starts with increasing the number of courses available on these topics — and also training teachers on how to effectively weave these subjects into the classes they teach. That’s one strength of Bertram’s Project Lead The Way, which includes professional development for educators so they can support student learning of 21st Century skills.
Even if students don’t end up in a STEM-related field, they need some competency around technology. Policymakers and educational groups are investing heavily in STEM subjects, but experts say more needs to be done to attract students — particularly girls — toward these subject areas.
That exposure can also start early in a child’s education. High school may be too late in the game, according to a recent study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Alignment in teaching practices across all disciplines is one way to bring more “high-quality STEM” learning to students, the report’s authors say. So too is supporting teachers with professional development, so they can master the skills their students need for their future.
- EdTech: Focus on K-12 Q&A: Vince Bertram Leads the Way Toward STEM in Schools