Our definition of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is dynamic and evolving to keep science and mathematics on children's horizon of possibilities.
Keeping children’s options for science and mathematics education open for as long as possible requires a holistic approach that addresses the broader educational system at both K-12 and the university level with sustained, systemic and specialized change. Specialized science and mathematics teachers are found in secondary education, but are less frequent in elementary years. Unfortunately, a child’s aptitude and interest is science and mathematics are often determined before they enter junior high. Most teachers in elementary schools have humanities backgrounds and meet the minimal entrance requirements for mathematics and science. In addition to having limited content knowledge, teachers may be wary of teaching mathematics and science.
Improving the STEM-specialist knowledge of teachers in elementary schools is essential for improving science and mathematics teaching in the early years.
In a joint commitment, the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education and the Imperial Oil Foundation jointly plan to develop and implement high-impact educational experiences for young people who will become the scientists and engineers of the future. Beginning in 2012, the Imperial Oil Foundation contributed $2.5 million over five years to support research and development of programs that will enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in early school years.
Within the Werklund School of Education, the IOSTEM initiative:
All projects undertaken through, and in association with, IOSTEM will be systemic, sustained and specialized:
Systemic – To be effective, efforts towards educational change must involve all stakeholder groups (e.g., students, educators, policy makers, prospective employers) and must occur simultaneously across all levels of organization (i.e., in schools, in teacher preparation programs, in ongoing professional development) to create a focused collaborative network of people, and organizations, engaged in improving STEM education for today’s young people.
Sustained – Lasting changes to practice demand ongoing analysis, continuous effort, and constant support. We are committed to providing these three elements through ongoing research and translation of research knowledge to students and experienced teachers and by developing the IOSTEM-Education Initiative programs. These programs will be instrumental in providing expertise and support to the Werklund School of Education’s various initiatives in pre-service education; ongoing professional learning for experienced teachers, including those in rural and remote areas; and young scientists, engineers and educators.
Specialized – It is important for young learners to have access to teachers with expert disciplinary knowledge. Training educator specialists is a cornerstone of IOSTEM.