Teaching teachers to teach STEM subjects can be fun, but it’s also valuable. When teachers know how much fun a subject can be, they can show students how to enjoy it as well.
Some of the tools of the trade include robots and rockets. And then there’s Raspberry Pi, for teaching about the pi number. All these tools are used by teachers, scientists and business people to spark interest among children in STEM subjects, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
The idea is to hook them early — efforts have pushed as far down as prekindergarten — and keep them involved through middle school, high school and into college, with the hope that they’ll make it a career.
“We see it at pretty much all ages now, the idea being the younger you start, the better you are later,” said Rita Martens, lead consultant for the Iowa Department of Education.
Such efforts also appear to be growing, from the White House to the schoolhouse.
A key focus is to make STEM fun and real and to show students it can lead to interesting and lucrative careers.
Two events in the Omaha area Saturday focused on just those goals. A free workshop brought together 50 teachers, of third through sixth grades from seven school districts, for training in best practices to engage students in STEM. Offered by Sally Ride Science and the Northrop Grumman Foundation, it’s one of five that will be staged across the country this year.
Iowa Western Community College also partnered with Google for the second year to bring 15 STEM teams from nine area high schools together for the Anti-Gravity Games competition.
Matt Kasper, director of marketing for Sally Ride, said the aim of the organization founded by the first American woman in space is to connect students with careers.