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This is the book that will flip the way you think about STEM from “not me” to “I’m in!” Author Jeff Weld is the director of the acclaimed Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. He sees STEM as “a white-hot, transformative revolution in schooling as we know it.” He channels the wisdom of professionals in education, business, and government to bring you the theory and policy behind nationally recognized education models for STEM. Whether you’re an educator, business professional, or policy maker, you can share Weld’s infectious enthusiasm as you extract best practices that will prepare students for the future.
Creating a STEM Culture’s wide-ranging topics include why STEM matters; what STEM networks do; how to build community buy-in for STEM; what makes school–business STEM partnerships work; and what STEM means for teachers, learning, and assessment. Each chapter is sprinkled with lighthearted case studies that complement the topic at hand. From start to finish, writes Weld, the story of STEM unfolds “as a how-to, can-do, who’s-who, you-too manual and memoire based on the experiences of leaders who walk the talk.”
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I just finished reading"Creating a STEM Culture for Teaching and Learning" by Jeff Weld, NSTA press. The book is very insightful as to the Rise of STEM. The importance of relationships between business and the educational community is highlighted when the book discusses Iowa's STEM Professional Network from the planning years of 2007 to 2011, all the way through year 4 in 2014-2015.
The book discusses how the local community was so integral in the early years of formalized education. As the 1920's arrived, with the desire for higher expectations, specialized learning, and school buses, the community connections to schooling fell apart. Our youth were trucked off to regional schools, divided into grade levels and taught the universal curriculum. Our children were either factory job-ready or set up for college.
Fast forward to current time, STEM is proving to be very effective, resulting in resource pool expansion. 'The federal budget included nearly $3 billion for STEM education in 2016. The private sector's annual investment in STEM education is estimated at well over $1 billion annually, with companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman each investing over $13 million each year, according the the recent Washington Post article "Growing Roots for More STEM."'
As we heard during our time in Baltimore, the '2011 McKinsey Global Institute study "An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America's Future" noted that enrollment trends portend that in the next decade the United States will produce twice as many graduates in the social sciences and business as in STEM, and that if nothing is done to redirect the interests of some of these graduates toward STEM we can expect an exacerbated shortage of qualified candidates for technical jobs.'
Relationships between our schools and local businesses is crutial to solving this economic problem. As a middle school teacher, to motivate students to pursue these STEM careers, the learning needs to be locally generated, real world curriculium; problem based, interdisciplinary teaching that is student centered; student interests will steer instruction; and learning must also occur beyond school walls; are just a few important elements for success.
As I return to my school in early August, I will keep these reasons in mind for observing our current culture, and questioning my fellow teachers and leaders, are we meeting the needs of our students for a profitable future for living and working in St. Augustine Florida, 2025 and beyond.
Joseph Huffman (Saint Augustine, FL)
Having coordinated a regional STEM organization over the last 6 years I would highly recommend this publication to administrators, classroom educators, employers, and anyone interested in STEM education and talent issues. Jeff Weld outlines the fundamental importance of STEM proficiency in a changing world then provides examples and guidance for STEM teaching and learning at the regional, community, school and classroom level. He shares practical, detailed information on creating STEM networks, community engagement, building and sustaining employer-education partnerships, classroom methodology, teacher professional development, assessment and of course lessons learned!
As a coordinator for a fledgling statewide STEM network, I found this book extremely useful. While it's core is the story of the widely successful work of the Iowa Governor's STEM Council, there are examples and references to STEM work across the country. I appreciated a link to North Carolina's Guide to STEM Community Engagement. We started tools like this from scratch, so it's nice to get further ideas on how to make them better (though it would've been nice to have 2 years ago!).
Jeff Weld shows his wit and sense of humor throughout the book, making it enjoyable to read. For example, he says, "STEM networks are conga lines that relieve and bolster innovation to scale," in a section on catalyzing local/regional/state STEM networks. In a section on strategies for community collaboration on STEM, he notes that "STEM connects the bucolic educational pond of koi and catfish to the piranha pit of the broader community, making both much better."
As schools in Wisconsin have some new opportunities for STEM related grants in FabLabs and robotics, I also appreciated the chapters on teacher professional development and considerations for teacher preparation programs. Teachers need support to do this work, but doing that the same way as always isn't going to cut it.
I'd recommend this book to educators or community members interested in supporting ongoing work in STEM, thinking about it new ways, or getting some ideas to freshen current approaches.
Kevin Anderson (Madison, WI)
The book was more of a lit review with a lot of background regarding STEM culture. I did not find that it was a toolkit for creating a STEM culture within a school or district. There are no templates or "guides" that would really help if that is what you are looking for. This book has a very short sighted focus on Iowa and does not provide guidance as to how to translate their success to urban districts/schools and/or diverse student populations across the topics discussed.
Lauren (Washington, DC)
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