On May 24, Northwestern University announced the creation of a new position to help facilitate STEM development at local Evanston Township High School. The position of Northwestern/ETHS partnership coordinator will be filled by Kristen Perkins who currently works in Northwestern’s Office of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Partnerships. Perkins will arrange trips to Northwestern’s cutting-edge science facilities and help teachers effectively incorporate STEM education into their curricula in order to spark students’ interest in science and technology.
The coordinator position will allow students at ETHS to take advantage of the fantastic resources available at Northwestern, but interest in science and technology fields needs to be fostered throughout America. Although not all high schools have the resources Northwestern makes readily available, the past few years have witnessed interesting developments in STEM education.
In August 2011, STEM School Academy opened in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The school currently caters to 435 students in grades 6-9, but plans to add a grade each year until it becomes a combined junior and senior high school with grades 6-12. The school hopes to be the solution to educating students who can compete in global fields that require innovation and research and approaches their curriculum specifically with career development in mind—a seriously needed change to American education as depicted in our post on why engineers are still successful in spite of a struggling job market.
Devry Univeristy is also helping high school students, specifically girls, through their HerWorld program. In March, Devry hosted over 30 events across the country in order to educate girls about their opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. The events hope to inspire interest through games, hands-on projects, and presentations by famous women like Olympics athlete Mia Hamm. The program also hosts a blog that allows girls to discuss everything from “Education” and “Paying for College” to “Life in General.”
Although Congress is still developing an effective plan to implement more STEM-focused education through the America COMPETES Act and No Child Left Behind initiative, its encouraging to see universities and high schools taking matters into their own hands and giving students the resources they need. Northwestern, Devry, and STEM Academy are all steps in the right directions, but only reach a small percentage of students in America. Can we avoid the job shortage and under- and unemployment currently sweeping the country for recent college graduates by starting STEM education early on? What can schools without resources like Northwestern do to inspire their students?