STEM in Hawaii

It is not news that growth in math-intensive science and engineering jobs is outpacing overall job growth by three to one.  Or, that in the U.S., only about 5% of all bachelor’s degrees are being earned in engineering.  STEM resurfaced recently in the headlines with Obama reiterating the importance of STEM (for more info on his presentation, click here), focusing on three priorities:

  1. increase STEM literacy so all students can think critically in science, technology, engineering and math
  2. improve the quality of math and science teaching so American students no longer are outperformed by those in other nations
  3. expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities

Obama and other STEM policy agendas view public-private partnerships as key…examples include:

  • Time Warner Cable’s “Connect a Million Minds” Campaign, which aims to connect more than one million students to highly engaging after-school STEM activities that already exist in their areas
  • Discovery Communications’ “Be the Future” Campaign, which will create content that reaches more than 99 million homes, including a public service announcement campaign and the creation of interactive education content through Discovery Education
  • Sesame Street’s Early STEM Literacy Initiative will consist of a major focus on science and math for young children with “My World is Green and Growing.” The program will be part of a two-year science initiative designed to increase positive attitudes toward nature, deepen children’s knowledge about the natural world, and encourage behavior that shows respect and care for the environment.
  • National STEM Game Design Competitions, which will be sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, Sony Computer Entertainment America, the Entertainment Software Association, and its partners, is a set of nationwide competitions that include the design of the most compelling, freely available STEM-related video games for children and youth.
  •  “National Lab Day” is a grassroots effort to bring hands-on learning to 10 million students by upgrading science labs, supporting project-based learning, and building communities of support for STEM teachers.

Hawaii is one of six states participating in the National Governors Association Center STEM initiative.  Governors are key to these state-led initiatives that focus on standards and assessments, teachers, data systems, and closing the achievement gap in low-performing schools.  Eventually the STEM network will be expanded to all 50 states.  With Hawaii as one of the early adopters of this STEM initiative, I’m curious to hear how schools are tackling STEM and making it the center of school innovation.  I’d love to hear from you – email me and share some of your school’s best practices.