As put forth in the list of big-picture goals below, effective STEM Education programs have the potential to do more than engage students in projects. They are pathways to equitably prepare students for college and career pursuits, supporting stronger communities across Wisconsin. School programs should be designed to ensure that all graduates are “STEM literate.”
STEM Education in Wisconsin should:
- Actively invite, engage, motivate, and inspire all students in these subject areas and related career pathways.
- Raise the achievement of all students so that they are prepared to create and use technology in their learning, college, community, and careers.
- Close the achievement and technical skill gaps between economically disadvantaged students, ELLs, students of color, and their peers.
- Increase the number and diversity of students who aspire and succeed at the highest levels of academic and technical achievement in these subject areas and related career pathways.
- Inspire learning which benefits the common good, resulting not only in individual gains in STEM skills, but also in stronger communities as a result of students applying their skills to solve relevant community issues.
A STEM literate student can apply their fundamental content knowledge and skills to collaboratively and creatively solve novel problems.
Breaking this definition into its component parts:
- STEM literate student - from 4K through 12th grade, ALL students should be progressively developing STEM literacy through a cohesive program of learning which includes a progression of problem-solving tasks.
- Apply - students apply their understanding and skills to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of their local and/or global community. Further, students can transfer their knowledge and skills learned in one setting to a different context. Application also includes students analyzing career opportunities associated with STEM education and preparing an academic career plan aligned to personal goals that emphasizes how STEM thinking relates to their intended pathway.
- Fundamental content knowledge - this knowledge is defined by the state’s academic standards, with an emphasis on the conceptual understanding of big ideas.
- Fundamental skills - students can:
- Break problems down into component parts;
- Adapt to new situations;
- Communicate effectively;
- Reason abstractly by making sense of quantities and their relationships to critically analyze problems;
- Persevere; and,
- Use technology and valid research strategies.
- Collaboratively and creatively - know when/where to go to get complementary help to work toward resolution. Rely on each other for creative ideas, no one person or discipline holds all knowledge and skills necessary.
- Solve novel problems - Today’s problems are increasingly complex; they must be understood in terms of systems, not isolated issues or content areas. Students must recognize, appreciate, and utilize the connections among disciplines to understand and solve challenges or problems that cannot be resolved by any one disciplinary approach.