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Science In Our Community
Lecture Series

WHAT WILL STEM EDUCATION OF
THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

                STEM education of the future represents a new kind of instruction that is oppositional to traditional education.  The teacher will no longer be leading the show. Students will no long be segregated based on age.  There will no longer by defined periods and bells.  Students will no longer be spoon fed isolated bits and pieces of information in separate subjects and inrows of desks.    And, there won’t be any more “Standards" industrial-based literacy ” that all schools must comply to, albeit not very well anyway.  Rather, there will be individualized benchmarks and products to demonstrate problem-solving competency and STEM-based literacty.

                So what should STEM education of the future look like?   STEM education must become an integrative student-centered learning community that will prepare students to directly enter the job market, which we know will largely be STEM based.  This will require the application of higher-level cognitive processing skills to “real” existing problems.  Students will learn to access, network with, and evaluate multiple sources of information.  Students will work together to create and share knowledge. Their success will be dependent upon and measured by their results and products. Julie Dunkle and Mary Zimmerman describe what STEM classrooms and schools of the future might be like. Some good examples of STEM-based learning classrooms include Kilborne Middle School and the 21st Century Smart Labs.

                Some elements of a STEM Education Center or Model would include:

Multimedia enhanced classrooms designed for student-centered inquiry that supports collaborative and individual working space.
  • Technology based communication systems that seamlessly connect students both locally and globally.
  • Project-based learning environments which require students to use cutting edge science and technology tools to design experiments, collect data, analyze data, evaluate data, and share conclusions.  These will become more elaborate as students gain experience, knowledge, and skill.
  • Project-based learning that integrates STEM with other traditional school taught subjects such as history, humanities, economics, reading, and writing. 
  • Teachers as facilitators which guide and support students in their quest for knowledge and in understanding the knowledge generated by the quest.
  • Parents, family, and community as part of the learning-teaching environment

                Interdisciplinary STEM-learning communities will build social networking skills, knowledge, and partnerships essential to success in a STEM-based society.   Facilities will become learn-by-doing doing centers that enable students to quickly  access world-wide knowledge bases, communicate and collaborate in multiple ways, tackle real-world problems and design real-world experiments, collect date, analyze data, and formulate and communicate conclusions.  It is becoming a world of learning and creating through digital means (see Approach to Teaching 21st Century Students).   STEM Education Centers of the future, like the proposed San Luis Obispo Discovery Center, will prepare our students for successful lives in the new millennium.

                Now is the time to prepare for our future.   Now is the time to begin developments of a new age of education in this country.  STEM must naturally become the focus of ALL education.   The consequences of hesitating in the pursuit of this endeavor will be dire for our children and our nation.

Derrick Lavoie, Executive Director

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