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What are your STEM passions?

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under STEM

by Maggie Abrahamson, a NIOST Afterschool Matters Fellow

Oct. 13, 2012

Today was the second Fellowship meeting.  We broke into groups and opened the session with an ice breaker that helped us get to know each other better.  In our small group, we had all worked in a laboratory at one time in our careers.  Probably not too surprising for people looking to implement or enhance STEM learning in and out of school time.  What was energizing was to learn the depth and breadth of knowledge among us and to see the clear passion each of us has for implementing STEM learning in a high quality way at our sites.


Our first task of the day was to look at our working documents of STEM ‘passions’ which lists our collective thoughts and then to add, reflect and choose those passions that seem to resonate with us most strongly.  It seemed to me that I shared many similar thoughts and ideas about STEM learning, but that also there was a wide range of topics I hadn’t really thought about before.  It was stimulating to just be a part of this group.  It is the setting aside of time to think and reflect with others who have the same or different questions that leads to new thinking and new avenues to explore that excites me.  One of the most surprising conversations of the day was that there seemed to be general consensus that STEM education was important and that educators were pursuing that pathway, but people seem not to be able to clearly articulate exactly how STEM education should be implemented.  A lively discussion ensued with no clear conclusions reached.  It seemed even defining what exactly is a STEM education was problematic.

We are just beginning our journey as action researchers.  As an out-of-school activity provider, I personally am looking forward to partnering with two math teachers in my middle school building.  I’m hoping their expertise with curriculum will strengthen my project based learning activities for students in the afterschool venue.  I want to learn ways to assess both enjoyment of an activity (important to insuring continued voluntary attendance) and actual academic learning (important to student success and to funding agencies).  Every Fellow is truly vested in providing the very best for their students and participants.  Based on their passions, I expect to have an enriching and enlightening fellowship that will leave me better prepared to engage and teach youth about science, technology, engineering and math and to ignite their interest in future learning.

The Fellowship is sponsored by the Noyce Foundation.

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