The Future Of STEM In America?

Perhaps in America. Meanwhile the UK has another generation of PiWars teams, and coderDojo, and code_club, and the RaspberryPi Foundation, and Maker classes with 3D printers and laser cutters. The focus is on making learning fun and learning to make, code and succeed. It seems, from here, quite cohesive.

Long ago there were two major scopes companies. They each tried to build future business by granting scopes to schools. (They were businesses after all…) Swift Playgrounds, and Google AIY seem like modern “future business” education efforts that probably have limited future.

You guys are depressing, talking about the demise, (and the uncertain future), of DI. DI is the “robot I’m riding” and the weak point of the GoPiGo3 is me.

1 Like

Same here. User error – that’s me! STEM is required for all students. BTW, it’s now STEAM (A = arts) . Because it’s required you have the “How to handle the kids that don’t really like tech stuff”. Also my community is very wealthy & tech stuff for “My kid” is viewed as geeky and of interest only because “my kids” will be managing them. Not unknown for parents to come to the semi-annual parent teacher meets with a lawyer.

We’re talking 11, 12 year olds here. They should have fun & learn at he same time. The STEM teacher here is really good at motivating them and she hauled me in to teach them about computers, etc. (the code word is “coding”) . So I’ve worked with about 500 kids now (one 40 min period per week for 9 weeks) . The 5th graders use Mit’s Scratch and they build 3 games (explore, G1 and G2). 100% get explore and Game 1 and about 80% get Game 2. The 6th graders work in 2 kid teams and built a GoPiGo3 (that was hysterical --“Dr N what’s a screwdriver” . But they built 22 of them. (Took 2 classes) . Then they programmed several challenges and again all but a very few got them all. They used Bloxter and some Python.

But the “rules” of STEM are for it to be 100% student choice. We’re violating that by forcing all kids to do my “coding”. Kids seem happy, but I’m just waiting for the powers that be to come at us for destroying student creativity.

Doubt that will happen, because middle school education here involves checking boxes. If a teacher can get through the day and check all of the boxes that’s it. If you want more, someone has to make more boxes to check. That’s why this STEM teacher is so rare. Hopefully I help reduce her work load.

If you have insomnia, google STEM ESSA requirements (Used o be Common Core) and start reading.

Kids are great and this 1003 month old curmudgeon LOVES it.

1 Like

100% student driven ANYTHING in education directly translates to “fuster-cluck” as they used to say in the service way back when.

If there were some way to eliminate all the “Karens” and “Chads” from the parenting gene-pool, we’d have regular mail and package service to many nearby galaxies by now.

It’s a disgrace. Years ago I saw an article about country rankings for innovation and the Good 'Ol US of A ranked at number EIGHTY-ONE. Even Russia was way ahead of us.

As @cyclicalobsessive said, other countries are mandating STEM. Geeky or not. Un-cool or not. You wanna graduate? Weeeelll, guess what. You better get your “geek” on! Whining parents? The hankies are down the hall in the lavatories, hanging next to the commodes!

Went to an interesting park on the north side of Moscow today. Guess what was PLASTERED all over the place? Huge advertisements for “Zvesdaya” (Star), the annual Russian science and technology Olympics for middle-grade-level school kids.

We’re talking fifth through seventh grade here - with entries that would make the Westinghouse Science Scholarship hang its head in shame. And I’ve seen 'em too - MIT would give its left testicle for some of the stuff these “middle grade” kids do. No kidding.

Damn it all! You hit one of my hot buttons!!

(Red Alert! Blood-Pressure Critical!! Steam Overload!!)

If we spent one tenth of the time and money doing stuff that we spend complaining about it, the Chinese would be envying us for a change and all the hackers would be working for US!


Hah! One more. Approximately 50% of the funding (taxes) that go to our public schools go to pensions. (That’s folks who are NOT working) . Not increasing a lot, but it “ain’t decreasing”.

There are separate unions for the teachers, maintenance, office workers, principals office, etc. all vying to do better for their folks. Interesting that about 3 to 4 % of our 50plus million K-12 kids are now home-schooled. It’s growing at around 8%, a “bit” more than the population. And, of course, don’t forge he war-zones in our big cities.

re: innovation rankings – or any rankings by the “elite-all knowing”. Kind of like my fellow academics back in the 60’s (Thats when Lincoln, or was it Washington was president?). Their models predicted “big-time ice-age” by mid 80’s. Gulf stream would stop & all of The UK & Europe’s climate would end up like northern Canada. Worked out great. Kept the same models. Changed the sign of a few parameters & voila, warming and more grant $.

BTW, did you know that 73.2% of ALL statistics are made up? Yep!


1 Like

Virtually everyone in my family is involved with teaching - elementary school, high school, or University.

The one common factor they all mention is that teaching - at any level - is rife with politics, busybodies, cliques, idiot and unfeeling parents, and a workplace that is designed to suck the soul out of you.

I have the highest respect for (most) teachers, and I wish the schools would just get outta their way and let them teach.

There is/was a school in NYC that was “the last stop before jail” for many disruptive students.

The person who was responsible for administrating this school went to both the City and the union(s) and told them: “If you want this to work, you gotta get outta my way and let me run the school the way I want to run it, without all the political BS. Don’t bother my teachers, let them alone and let them do their job!”

Students at this school were held absolutely responsible for their actions and assignments.

State standardized scores went through the roof and this school had a higher graduation rate, with better grades, than any other school in the city. College retention and graduation rates were stellar.

So much so that the City wanted to run all the schools that way but - of course - the politicians and unions shot that down big-time!

If we could - somehow - just get out of the educator’s way and let them do their jobs, there would be a revolution in education in the US.

You have that right. I’m just a volunteer, but have total control of the classes that I teach. As I told the kids, I played in the “majors”. Not an MVP, but know what’s going on. (paid for 4 kids through college). If you want to learn how to deal with a computer, you’ll get that here. If you are not interested, that’s fine. Gives me more time to help others, etc. Kids respond & learn.

Regs breed overhead. And (too much) overhead is the cancer of any organization. In the STEM class one of the first days the teacher asks the kids to read and sign some agreement that details how they are to respond (Biggie now is SEL, Social Emotional Learning) . But only if they agree. They are free to make up their own. I though it an April Fools joke. Nope.

I can’t imagine (well, actually I can) what it must be like to be there full time. Shine a light. That’s all we can do. Home Schooling growing at about 8%/year, they say. Gee, wonder why.

Appreciate your comments. On point.


1 Like