Considerations for Implementing STEM Programs

This blog post is the last in a four-part series of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related posts that align with the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference (April 23-25) and the USA Science & Engineering Festival in DC (April 26-27).

There are several important issues to consider in developing and implementing STEM programs and integrating STEM into classroom instruction:

  1. Most programs do not incorporate all four of the STEM “letters” or components. It is important to articulate the overall STEM goals and objectives for educator practice and student learning and to create or implement programs that integrate as many of the letters as possible.
  2. There are many STEM programs and resources online, but educators benefit from professional development training and support (online or in-person) to learn how to incorporate these programs and resources into their classroom instruction.
  3. Equipment and materials are often required to implement hands-on, project-based, inquiry-based STEM activities.
  4. Developing and sustaining a STEM network or partnership with STEM businesses, university STEM faculties, and other STEM organizations requires a focused commitment.

In addition, there are several challenges that are exacerbated for rural and geographically isolated states and regions:

  1. Travel and lodging costs and participation fees are barriers for educators and students to participate in existing STEM programs.
  2. Various STEM networks exist at the local, state, regional, and national levels, so defining the size and scope of such a network creates both opportunities and challenges related to reaching out to institutions of higher education, businesses, and other partners. Regional partnerships may be more feasible for rural and geographically isolated locales, but creating and sustaining partnerships requires that networks are responsive to local needs.

These challenges are important to consider and address as districts, states, and regions work to create, sustain, and expand STEM programs and partnerships. Previous blogs in this series offer recommendations for judging the quality of existing STEM programs, providing STEM instructional materials and training, and developing state STEM networks.

Clarisse Haxton is a senior researcher and technical assistance liaison at the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.

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