Creating an Effective STEM Program in Your School

STEM education has exploded onto the international education scene over the past few decades. Growing job opportunities and stories of high tech organizations and personas taking the world by storm have ignited a firestorm of interest in this field and left many educators scratching their heads on how to best implement this in their own learning spaces.

Faced with numerous programs, curricula, products and partnerships, it’s a good idea for educators to take a step back and review what the basics of finding something for their institution would be. One helpful set of best practices have been compiled by the Making Science Make Sense Initiative which lists four key criteria in creating a successful STEM program:

  1. Challenging Content/Curriculum 
  • An inquiry-based, experiential curriculum that is clearly defined and understood 
    • Related to real-world applications 
    • Encourages critical thinking, problem solving and team working 
    • Goes beyond minimum competencies 
    • Reflects local, state and/or national standards 
  1. An Inquiry Learning Environment 
  • An environment where teachers and their students work together as active learners
    • Teachers have access to and time allotted for professional development that hones their science knowledge and experiential teaching approach
    • Necessary curriculum materials are supplied in full 
    • Students’ diversity, individuality and uniqueness are recognized and respected 
  1. Defined Outcomes/Assessment
  • Goals are clearly identified and success is measured against them
    • Assessment tools are designed to measure outcomes
    • Assessment provides: *both quantitative and qualitative information *basis for research and continuous improvement of program 
  1. Sustained Commitment/Community Support
  • Program has strong leadership and sufficient resources
    • Continuity of program funding
    • School and/or school district support
    • Community support, including parents and private industry

Does your program match these criteria? If you need additional inspiration, see the Making Science Make Sense Initiative lists 30 different programs around the United States that fulfill these criteria and can be a great start in previewing what programs might be good for you!

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