The format of education is changing, and now much anticipated STEM programs cross into all fields. Its not just for science any more but can include fine arts, reading, music, and social studies.
Can teachers make information available to students and move away from the idea that math and reading are taught separately, in different spheres?
STEM classes reflect a new interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are new curriculum models, which are project based or designed for vocational schools. At Owatonna Junior High School social studies teacher Scott Noet refers to those spheres as “silos,” and the perception is that the method doesn’t reflect the natural learning process.
That’s true of the Owatonna public schools’ model, but STEM can have multiple interpretations. In Owatonna, there is a science and engineering focus, but the district wants to immerse all subjects into the STEM system of instruction.
“We don’t have a STEM curriculum, but we do have a science curriculum,” said Bob Olson, principal at Owatonna’s STEM elementary school, McKinley. “We do have a math curriculum. We do have things we want to do with technology, but it’s that piece on what do we do with that?”
In Owatonna, social studies, music , art, reading and writing can all fall under STEM.
The program is entering its third year, and it’s gaining momentum and a bit of attention. Moreover, administrators hope to confirm preliminary hints that STEM education can help close the deepening education gaps that exist in the district.
Growth of the program could be slow and intensive, though as yet uncertain, but administrators are looking positively on the new program.
“I wouldn’t call it an experiment any more going into our third year,” said Superintendent Peter Grant “What we’re doing at McKinley and Willow Creek and the junior high is really stable.”