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Students Love for STEM Exceeds EdTech Obstacles

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education has been a growing field that is receiving added backing from President Obama and Congress, however, there are still a few obstacles to overcome while students interest rises.

“While school administrators and teachers are generally onboard with the Obama Administration and Congress’ call for a heightened focus on K-12 STEM education, a number of challenges remain,” according to Beth Stackpole a Desktop Engineering contributor, “including the lack of available technology to support the programs in addition to insufficient professional training. “

Stackpole’s findings came from the results of a 2015 National Survey on STEM education from Interactive Educational Systems Design and STEM Market Impact LLC. The study explored the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS), that was developed as a base for K-12 STEM learning for students.

“One of the key differentiators of NGSS is a more robust focus on integrating engineering subject matter and disciplines into science-related courses,” reports Stackpole.

“Before you might have had a separate class for robotics or an introduction to engineering, but the subject matter wasn’t integrated into the science class,” said Daylene Long, founder and owner of STEM Market Reports, a key collaborator on the study, according to the article.

“With the new standards, students studying force would be tasked to build a bridge or other structure that demonstrated their understanding of force by applying key engineering principles.”

STEM fields are now being integrated by direct relevance between the subject areas. It creates a way for students to learn multiple applications at one time, however, the applications and technology to complete them come with a few obstacles including adequate class time and equipment.

“The biggest challenge is insufficient access to technology to support the new educational programs, according to 41.5% of survey respondents, while 37.9% said class time was not enough to adequately cover all of the subject disciplines,” Stackpole reports.

With the increased funding for education technology parents and instructors would also think that there is a sufficient amount of tools to help each student, however that isn’t the case according to Stackpole.

“The majority of teachers at the elementary school level lack access to the digital tools required to support a proper engineering background, while at the middle school and high school levels, there is access to the necessary digital tools, but more than half of the teachers say they are required to share them among classrooms and labs.”

As funding continues to be dispersed among schools across the nation that are adopting more technological tools, these conditions are expected to get better. There is much optimism behind the implementation of STEM courses and the tools used to apply the knowledge students receive. So much in fact, students themselves are beginning to see the joy in hands on learning.

While the concepts learned during STEM instruction may seem dry, the application is what gets students excited. Teaching them the material is only half the battle.

“But when you ask them to actually build their own wind turbine and determine how to pitch the blade to maximize energy output, the kids light up,” said Long according to Stackpole’s report.

“They really like the real-world application engineering brings to learning science concepts — it’s exciting and encouraging.”

Students are excited to learn about STEM but the responsibility to provide them with adequate resources relies on EdTech companies and the increase in funding.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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