STEM Education Framework:

The following framework for STEM education came about as a result of two courses we attended as part of Western University's Faculty of Education STEM cohort, as well as interviews with individuals (including professionals in STEM education, colleagues in the STEM education cohort, and other individuals with little formal knowledge of STEM) about STEM and STEM education. Some key points from the interviews follow the framework.

Goals:
  • Foster innovation and collaboration
  • Prepare students for the 21st century workplace
  • Get students to create, explore, discover & reason rather than consume, watch, verify & recall
  • Lifelong learning
  • Meet the needs of a changing global context
  • Engage everyone in the teaching & learning of STEM
  • Help students realize their potential
Role of the school board:
  • Provide resources (ex: funding, workshops, etc.)
  • Provide professional development to support STEM incorporation
  • Encourage experiential learning
  • Include STEM ideology across curricula (JK-grade 12)
Role of the teacher:
  • Create a creative and open environment
  • Utilize inquiry-based learning
  • Encourage critical thinking by asking questions
  • Provide resources for support on projects
  • Make STEM interdisciplinary by partnering with other staff members
  • Answer authentic questions/real-world problems
  • Teach practical skills (ex: research)
  • Individualize instruction
  • Foster & model the growth mindset
  • Engage with the larger community
  • Provide collaboration opportunities
  • Use a blended and/or flipped classroom when appropriate
Role of the student:
  • Work towards a SHSM (Specialist high skills major)
  • Own an individual or group project involving technology or design

Interview Highlights

What comes to mind when you hear the term STEM?
  • Coding, the future, a male-dominated field
  • New initiatives
  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • Creative technology, solving problems
  • Stem plot
Do you have any experience with STEM, if so what?
  • Yes, I teach math and I research the applications of mathematics to genetics
  • No experience except for an introduction to computational thinking in math and science for grades K-6
  • Yes, my elementary school used to have a day where each classroom would be set up with a different challenge and students would be put into groups. The groups would rotate through these classroom stations competing against other groups. Activities would include things like making a functional car with a wind up motor (miscellaneous items were supplied), interactive puzzles, and structurally designing either a bridge that had to hold a set amount of weight or tall building that wouldn’t blow over when a fan was faced towards it.
  • Yes, I took 2 science classes in university.
  • I have a degree in Math. My specialty is in optimization controls.
  • Yes, I am completing a BSc in chemistry.
How do you envision STEM education? (How should/can STEM be taught in the school?)
  • Introduce STEM into early grades by linking activities to common interests like animals, certain TV shows, etc.; before preconceptions about intelligence get in the way of pursuing STEM
  • Make STEM activities appealing for young girls so that they become intrigued and more likely to continue their STEM education and/or choose a STEM career
  • Implementation of tangible and technological materials
  • Hands-on approach (to keep interest alive); include a wide range of students; appeal to visual, verbal, and physical learners
  • Focus on experiential learning so that students can learn concepts and create knowledge by doing, rather than just seeing
  • Collaboration between feeder programs to colleges and universities
What implications do you think STEM has for the future?
  • STEM is important for the future; teachers need to prepare students for careers that don’t yet exist; the majority of these jobs will be in the STEM field
  • STEM has a role in everyone’s daily lives
  • I think STEM would encourage more people and a wider variety of people to become interested in pursuing fields that are in high demand
  • STEM will lead our society forward through its structural and scientific advancements, and will define how we communicate and solve problems in the coming years
  • STEM has great implications; people can find creative solutions to problems