In order to meet our nation’s growing demand for qualified STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers, educators must continue to prepare today’s students to fill these roles. Unfortunately, STEM educators face a series of unique challenges that continue to make their jobs more difficult. According to the nonprofit 100kin10 Grand Challenges, such obstacles have led to a shortage of STEM teachers nationwide.
Read below to learn more about these challenges and the ways educators and policymakers alike can begin to address them.
The Lack of STEM Elementary Teacher Support
Because STEM education is often perceived as a specialized area of study, when it comes to elementary school education, people do not typically think about these subjects as critical to early learning. In a reflection of this general perception, rarely do elementary school teachers receive adequate training in teaching these subjects during their own collegiate education. However, research has shown that because of a young child’s innate curiosity, they are uniquely suited to explore age-appropriate STEM themes. To better support elementary school teachers who want to provide this type of innovative education to their students, policymakers should check out programs like Invention Playground® and Camp Invention®, both from the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF).
The Need for STEM Professional Development
Another problem identified by 100kin10 Grand Challenges is a lack of professional development opportunities for educators looking to improve their ability to teach STEM at a high level. Because technology and best practices in these fields continue to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, it can be difficult for teachers to stay up to date. Findings published in the American Journal of Applied Psychology found that supplemental education for STEM teachers increased outcomes in the classroom, and that “professional development for teachers and proper training in STEM education is the driving force of STEM education.” For educators looking for a professional development opportunity inspired by lessons from some of the world’s most impactful inventors, NIHF’s professional development program is an ideal opportunity that can help educators continue to improve the quality of their STEM teaching.
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