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Improving STEM integration in schools

After an action packed two-week institute for teachers this summer, STEMpact and the Institute for School Partnership at Washington University in St. Louis returned this fall to deliver a STEM Leadership Series to school leaders across Missouri.

Partnering with the Missouri Math and Science Coalition, the series focuses on how to deeply integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles into classrooms and schools. School leaders, administrators and educators from 21 districts attended the event, traveling as far as 80 miles.

Science educator Kevin Lay discusses the STEM Excellence Pathways with his fellow district administrators and educators.

Science educator Kevin Lay discusses the STEM Excellence Pathways with his fellow district administrators and educators. (Barajas // ISP Photo)

“We were very impressed by the STEM workshop last year and by everyone that was involved,” said Kevin Lay, a science educator in the Gasconade County School District. “We just had to attend this year.”

The all-day workshop drew over 70 educators. During the morning session, participants received guidance and resources for integrating STEM into every classroom, not just math and science.

Melissa Carson, an assistant principal at Fairview Elementary in the Jennings School District, said that it was the tangible applications that were most valuable to her.

Fellow Jennings assistant principal Patricia Guyton agreed. “My aha-moment was just to understand what STEM is all about and how all the pieces and disciplines can work together,” Guyton said.

During the afternoon, the school leaders participated in a self-assessment based on the Carnegie Science Center’s STEM Excellence Pathways rubric. Leaders were then encouraged to think through next steps for bettering their STEM integration.

In addition to the practical applications for participants, guest speaker Troy Hogg, a Kirkwood School District Administrator new to the St. Louis-area, hit home the central theme of the workshop, sharing his experience starting an all STEM school in Columbia, Missouri.

Hogg said that in the beginning they had all the resources in the world, however, what they really needed was the knowledge of what to do with those resources. Once the teachers in his school understood how to inspire their students to become problem solvers and critical thinkers, he began to see transformational change occur.

“It’s not about what you teach,” Hogg said. “It’s about how you teach.”

 

About STEMpact

STEMpact is a unique ongoing collaboration of the St. Louis area’s top STEM companies providing education and resources for teachers and school district to help STEM education thrive in the St. Louis region. The group’s mission statement is “prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s STEM professional”. For more information about STEMpact and to see what this year’s STEM Teacher Quality Institute participants are learning, visit stempact.org.

 

October 2015   |  by, Gennafer Barajas

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