A is for Aeronautics: New Resource Room to showcase innovative lessons, projects and practices to inspire STEM learning
Nov 02, 2013
The pursuit of a stable, in-demand STEM career has been touted as one possible remedy to what’s ailing a generation in the throes of a steep unemployment rate and an economy struggling with a widening skills gap. But only 16 percent of college students are currently pursuing STEM degrees, and alongside stories of degreed, debt-ridden baristas, we regularly read headlines about the STEM road not taken and the alarming rate of attrition in college science departments.
The New York Times reported last year, 40 percent of the students beginning with majors in a STEM field will change to a non-STEM discipline. If you include pre-meds, the number jumps to 60 percent.
As science increases in complexity throughout a child’s schooling, one of the biggest challenges faced by teachers is ensuring that students’ enthusiasm remains strong enough to surmount the age old mindset that science is just too hard.
This year, for the first time, the Massachusetts STEM Summit has created a space for educators and innovators to showcase the ways they’re incorporating advanced concepts in subjects like civil engineering, robotics, biology and architecture into activities and lessons that can engage the youngest students, continue to inspire grade schoolers and propel those in college and beyond to embrace the rigors and rewards that accompany a career in science.
UMass Donahue Institute Executive Director Lynn Griesemer conceived the Resource Room to give attendees and exhibitors greater access to each other’s work. “There were a lot of resources for STEM education that were available through smaller organizations that are not able to sponsor,” she said, “so we created the Resource Room, not only to complement our sponsors’ exhibits, but because it can provide attendees with ideas to enrich and add to their curriculums.”
In the Resource Room, attendees will be able to engage with teachers and program directors who are helping preschoolers explore the oxidation process of a pumpkin, first graders examine declining bee populations, fifth graders build robots and sixth graders design public transportation systems. The demonstrations extend through the community college level with a submersible designed, built and used to conduct underwater research by Marine Biotechnology and Engineering students at MassBay Community College. Descriptions of the Resource
Room exhibits are available here.