“There are many people smart enough to split an atom, but not smart enough to shovel their driveway,” said Mark Holodick, Superintendent of the Brandywine School District in Delaware. All of the dedicated attendees at the Delaware STEM Council’s third annual symposium, in the midst of one of the northeast United States’ biggest blizzards, certainly were not in that category.
The educators, administrators, business leaders and government officials in attendance in Wilmington on Monday were among the state’s best and brightest – and bravest – committed to expanding the STEM capable workforce, increasing STEM literacy and making STEM meaningful to students.
Stratasys Education is committed to helping educators use 3D printing as an instructional tool to affect college and career readiness among the workforce of tomorrow – the students of today. We were in good company on a panel on How to Develop a STEM Program in Your School or District. The panel was moderated by Holodick, one of STEM’s biggest advocates.
As panelists, Stratasys Education General Manager Sig Behrens was joined by award-winning STEM teachers – Jordon Estock, Concord High School; Ruth Fuchs, Mellvaine Early Childhood Center; Robert Gibson, Sussex Central High School; Brian Sherrer, Brandywine High School; Brooks Twillwy, Mount Pleasant High School; and Ron Siebach, St. Georges Technical High School – to talk about the importance of STEM education.
The panel tackled some deep questions on STEM education, everything from “why STEM?” to “what excites you about your job?” and “what would you do differently if you could build your STEM program again?” Additionally, the panel discussed the importance of STEM programs and what they would share with other STEM educators. Here are the top 8 highlights:
- Why STEM? “If you pay attention to the news and what is popping up you will understand why. It is our responsibility to prepare our students for what’s next. What makes my job exciting is to have the opportunity to inspire kids to change the world. What I am learning in math and science has the impact to make changes for people that are not empowered to change things for themselves,” said Sherrer.
- Why Now? “We don’t know what jobs are going to exists in 10 years but we do know that critical thinking skills are important. Teaching students to fail is as important as teaching them to succeed. It’s important to connect with students and to encourage them to understand the process of making something with their hands and problem solving,” said Behrens.
- College & Career Readiness? “The idea of college and career readiness makes it crucial for us to prepare these students for tomorrow. While previously working at the university, I realized that students were coming without an idea of what they need in college. What do they need more than anything — skills in creative and critical thinking,” said Gibson.
- Can you start in kindergarten? “I have a goal of creating a beehive of activity for my students. I use STEM to get students excited about learning and becoming active users. You can inspire tomorrow’s innovators at a young age,” said Fuchs.
- Why is it exciting? “STEM is revolutionizing education. You have to be able to troubleshoot and problem solve — education has changed too; we are getting away from memorization. What’s most exciting is creating authentic real world opportunities for student to understand what is going in real world,” said Estock.
- Advice for new STEM educators? “You should stop asking kids what do you want to be; rather you should ask them what problems do you want to solve,” said Sherrer.
- Why 3D Printing? “We believe that 3D printing is changing how things are made. Engineering, manufacturing, design and more. Our vision is to inspire and engage as many young people as possible so they will be prepared to impact tomorrow,” said Behrens.
- Tips for a Schools just dedicating spaces to STEM?
Sherrer: “Relevant technology, bright open spaces.”
Twillwy: “A space that helps teachers cultivate meaningful, relevant curriculum and an environment that supports students in failing forward.”
Estock: “It’s important to create an environment that is student centered.”
Fuchs: “Create a beehive of activity that allows the teacher to be on sidelines guiding activity. It’s not quiet not neat but it’s real.”
Siebach: “A place where students can ask each other and learn from their environment.”
Behrens: “Real-world applications and technology.”
Gina Scala is the Director of Marketing, Global Education, at Stratasys.