STEM Professional Development for Teachers

  • Professional Development for K-12 Teachers

    The Science Outreach Center develops opportunities for regional teachers to obtain STEM content, pedagogy, and technology experience through professional development workshops, offered throughout the year. The workshops are developed based on teacher input from surveys as well as relevant topics and innovative practices in STEM education. If your school has a specific need, please feel free to contact us at scienceoutreach@francis.edu with your ideas for future workshops or activities in your school.

  • What is STEM and STEM Education?

    Many prominent leaders have called for reform of STEM education and recruitment of students to STEM fields of study as a matter of national importance.  Publications and reports such as Science for All Americans (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990), Technically Speaking (National Academy of Engineering, 2002), The World is Flat (Friedman, 2005), Rising Above the Gathering Storm (Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, 2007), National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System (National Science Board, 2007), and Engineering in K-12 Education (National Academy of Engineering, 2009) have focused national attention on the need for STEM education and its relevance to the nation's global competitiveness.  Common themes throughout include the importance of educating scientifically, numerically, and technically-literate students who possess 21st century skills including problem solving and critical thinking.

    The urgent need for improved education in STEM fields is underscored by the comparison of the performance of U.S. students in science and math in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science study) and the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) assessments and the relatively small percentage of students in the U.S. entering and completing STEM degrees in post-secondary education.  Since careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields contribute greatly to the nation's capacity for innovation and are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying careers in the economy of the 21st century, it is vital that we engage and prepare students in STEM education as well as excite them about career opportunities that are available in STEM fields.

    STEM education involves more than education in the separate fields of science and math.  It involves the development of a curriculum that integrates rigorous content from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, within the context of designing solutions to real-world problems.  It also often involves authentic experiences, such as industry mentorships, field trips, and guest speakers, to further enhance project-based curriculum and curriculum relevancy.  In the process of problem solving, students are engaged in the application of science and mathematics through technicalogical and engineering-design processes.  They learn to conduct scientific experiments, gather and analyze data, draw and communicate conclusions, develop and evaluate prototypes, and think critically.

    Integrative STEM education is a very effective way to engage students in higher order critical thinking and problem-solving skills by placing rigorous mathematics and science in the context of technology and engineering, the "T and E" in STEM.  In addition, incorporating personnel, projects, and expertise from business and industry into integrative STEM projects can serve to enhance curriculum relevancy as well as provide role models to excite more students about STEM careers.