Nationally recognized STEM expert Dr. Shirley Malcom was the featured speaker and she attracted 35 engaged STEM education leaders for the presentation and following Q&A. Dr. Malcom heads Education and Human Resources for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). At the event held on Nov. 1 at the Communities Foundation of Texas, Dr. Malcom was interviewed by Dee Chambliss of Educate Texas, an alliance of public and private groups that share the common goal of improving public education.
As reported by Educate Texas, here's some of strategies Dr. Malcom suggested to get students interested in science and engineering:
- Positioning these fields as "helping professions." Many students today, particularly girls who are often underrepresented in STEM, are looking to "help people and make a difference in the world," she said.
- Starting early in preschool and encouraging young children in simple math in everyday activities (i.e. counting the plates when setting the table, sorting socks).
- Introducing science and math to students on their own terms (i.e. digital arts, using new tools).
- Using the entire community for teaching and learning (i.e. Scouts, libraries, museums).
Dr. Malcom urged corporate supporters to make their stance on this issue known. Specifically she told them to "have more voice and make clear by their presence that there is advocacy for this - bring a voice of transformation." She also recommended that they "demand evidence of success just as if you were buying anything else." Dr. Malcom left those in the STEM fields with a simple, but more and more clear, message: be "visible and present to young people."
"It's a matter of helping people understand - parents, grandparents and students - the opportunities that exist to guide them and support them. It's everything from considering the toys we give to taking kids to libraries," Dr. Malcom said. "You can't teach everyone everything they need to know, but you can situate them for a lifetime of learning."
Well said, Dr. Malcom. Take note, people! STEM learning doesn't have to be dry, boring and for the boys. Today it can be fun, engaging, interactive and hands-on. In fact, this is more true today than it ever has been. And it involved beginning when children are young; before they can develop preconceived notions about science and match before ever giving them a chance. If you have suggestions on how to inspire today's youth and get them involved in STEM, let us know and you could be featured on our blog.