STEM is short for science, technology, engineering and math. In the nation’s revitalized manufacturing industry, math matters. And for a lot of job applicants, that’s problematic.
McClatchy reports that manufacturers are having trouble finding prospective employees with basic math skills:
But what troubles General Plastics executive Eric Hahn is that although the company considers only prospective workers who have a high school education, only one in 10 who take the test pass. And that’s not just bad luck at a single factory or in a single industry.
Jacey Wilkins, a spokeswoman for the Manufacturing Institute, added:
You could think that even for production, do you really need to know math? But the truth is, you do, because these jobs are incredibly complex and integrate multiple functions and systems.
The truth is, part of the problem is how math is taught. The focus on repetition (“drill and kill”) and teaching to the test kill students’ interest. Sam Houston, president and CEO of the North Carolina Science, Math and Technology Education Center, said the Common Core State Standards Initiative will help teachers connect math to real-world possibilities:
The Common Core should give everyone a better means to answer the question, “Why do I need to know this?”
Why indeed. That’s what most schools don’t teach. That’s also the problem that STEMeverywhere will help solve.
At last weekend’s AT&T EduTech Hackathon, my team developed a prototype for a mobile-friendly website where we will curate free resources for teachers to help them connect the dots for students. The team members are Morgan Bagshaw, Pamela Bey, Jessica Hammond, Cheo Walker and Michael Washington.
In the Teachers’ Lounge, we will break down information silos and curate a fully indexed database of resources, including Common Core instructional materials, lesson plans, and tutorial/how-to videos on inquiry-based learning. On the community message board, teachers will be able to collaborate, share strategies and effective instructional practices, and identify their needs.
The Students’ Space will promote year-round learning and engagement among our target audience of middle- and high-school students. With one click, students will have access to free resources on how to build video games and other cool things, internships and contests. Using our interactive map, they will be able to search for tech-filled fun where they live. Our STEM Rocks interactive videos will connect students to STEM superstars who can expose them to the possibilities.
STEMeverywhere made it to the second round where we will compete for the grand prize of $5,000, plus in-kind business services from local partners.
We will be judged on three criteria – concept, development progress and implementation opportunity. We have an opportunity to have an impact on increasing interest in STEM among underrepresented minorities and girls. But it will take a village – crowdsourcing – to fix the crisis in STEM education.
If you want to get involved, contact us.