Props to the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences (the MAS) for bringing higher education to the STEM education table! On June 7th, 2011, stakeholders involved with STEM gathered in Sturbridge to “Partner in the Transformation of STEM Education in the Commonwealth”, see the agenda here. There were 4 break-out discussions, some that reportedly went better than others, however, mine was FAB thanks to Dr. Kathleen Kirby, our facilitator. Our mission was to answer this question: How can higher education reach into pre K-12 education to inspire more interest in STEM learning?
We came up with 3 needs: TRAINING, BROKERING, and SUSTAINED FUNDING .
- Training is needed for professors or industry researchers to feel more comfortable working with school-aged children, facilitating professional development for teachers, (and I add) to assist in writing the outreach component required in NIH and NSF grants.
- Brokering is needed to bring together stake holders: teachers who need help with content from content experts, industries who need to find schools to work in, and tying together the many small groups already doing STEM outreach across the state. I would add that brokering is also needed for higher education researchers who want to bring science to the “kitchen table”.
- Sustained Funding is needed to keep it all going, and can be had through the proper use of training and brokering.
Where to get all this? The MAS does a terrific job at bringing all the right people together, with their many connections across the state, from community and 4-year colleges, to organizations, science teachers, and schools; they are STEM brokers, if you will. At Umass, we in the Math, Science, and Learning Technologies (MSLT) and the Learning and Media Technology (LMT) concentrations in the School of Education are in the process of forming a graduate student council, which will serve as a resource for educational training, and hopefully partner with the MAS.