- Tahoma High School in Washington has updated its automotive tech program to incorporate more hands-on STEM learning, upgraded its program to meet and exceed National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation standards and now uses industry-standard tools in class, District Administration reports.
- The connection between automotive tech and STEM is natural because using automobiles to teach science and math principles was the original STEM, says Trish Serratore, president of the ASE Education Foundation, an organization that works to prepare the auto service workforce.
- Automobile tech programs in schools not only teach a lucrative, high-demand skill, but also offer opportunities for subject integration as auto shop students are required to write on the subject and non-career and technical education students can see STEM concepts in action.
STEM is now a watchword in education, and schools are sometimes rebranding courses or activities to emphasize their connections to science, technology, engineering and math. Some schools are now focusing on STEAM rather than STEM in an attempt to draw arts into the equation while others work to draw sports into the STEM arena. In most cases, these efforts are designed to help students see how STEM fields relate to students in their everyday lives and to connect these fields to student interests. In some cases, the connection to STEM also helps schools gain grant funding for areas that may not immediately seem STEM-connected.
Career and technical education (CTE) courses, such as auto shop, are a great fit for a STEM connection because they are often, by definition, technical. According to SkillsUSA.org, an organization with the goal of promoting and improving CTE through training and competition, writes, “The magic of CTE is the definition of STEM not just science or technology, engineering or math but the integration of two or more of these topics in the context that students are passionate about. Without the combination of two or more of the STEM components you are not teaching STEM. That is why CTE is a perfect fit for STEM education.”
STEM education, however, can be easily used as a “lynchpin” for connecting the humanities as well. As authors Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz wrote in a recent blog, STEM or STEAM gives educators the opportunity to create learning environments "characterized by student engagement and academic success." "If we teach the way these subjects are used in the world beyond the school walls," they wrote, "students can experience the dynamism of the connection of the subjects. That is what captures interest.”