- Nearly half of U.S. workers with one to two years of work experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields say they had the most exposure to this curriculum when they were in elementary school, wrote eSchool News, citing a new study from toy maker littleBits and YouGov.
- While students are twice as likely today to take STEM-related courses than their parents were, girls are less likely to continue to take these subjects as they start middle school.
- Tying STEM classes to STEAM — which includes an art component — could help, encouraging students to adopt creative methods when studying these concepts. Real-world learning projects are also impactful, with 64% of those surveyed saying “hands-on lessons were most effective.”
Administrators understand the positive impact that weaving STEM subjects into the K-12 curriculum has on students. Now, integrating these lessons into classes as early as possible is becoming more apparent to ensure that students are exposed to STEM from the very beginning of their schooling years.
Curriculum designers may assume their budgets must be strained to bring STEM lessons to students. But school districts around the country are creating workarounds, which involve initiatives like teaming up with local universities or turning to low-cost materials like paper maché.
Cleveland Elementary School, part of California's Pasadena Unified School District, has held weekly hands-on science lessons with graduate students at the California Institute of Technology since January 2017. At the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 school in Washington, students could just as easily be crafting technical drawings as they are working on making paper maché spiders and webs, to test a science concept or see if an engineered design holds up. Kindergartners in the Barrington School District in Illinois are rocketed early into programming and robotics so that by the third grade, they are starting to design them in class.
Whether districts open the coffers to buy robots, 3D printers and coding toys, or team up with community members and search for lower cost supplies, the goal should be to bring more STEM-related tools to students, and to do so as early as possible.