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2. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

AFA Indiana and the Indiana Chapters actively support the STEM programs in the state of Indiana.  Education is the next frontier that we in the US need to improve in order to be remain number one and stay competitive in a world now driven by technological innovation.
AFA Chapter 150
Once upon a time and a very long time ago in schools across this land their lived the separate disciplines of Science,Industrial Tech, and Math. Each was contained in its only little box and kept separate from from another. Students consumed content from each box, but very seldom did the practices meet. While concepts and theories were related among the three, they each had their place, function, and time of delivery. There were moments when individual teachers would walk outside the box and even find a partner to share a box with. But the emphasis remained on distributing and testing the content found in these separate boxes . After all, the United States was the dominate economic power in the world, students were educated to serve thework force with a life time skill, and the world was still round. Today, students must be ready to enter a work force that might demand the changing of occupations or work responsibility over twenty times in a working career.Application within disciplines and across disciplines is important as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration,communication, innovation, and creativity become key to not just individual success, but also the global competitiveness of the United States. STEM education advocates that these separate disciplines be taken out of the box and integrated with one another. 
The idea of STEM Education involves integrating the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in order to provide programs that allow students to transfer knowledge across the curriculum making learning more relevant. Perhaps it was the teachings of Dewey, the determination of WWII, the launch of Sputnik, or the 1967 Cambridge Conference of the Correlation of Science thatfirst promoted STEM education. For those wanting to investigate the events thatled to the advent of STEM Education since 1746, a visit of the History Of STEM Education Timeline may be worth a trip. It may have been the 1983 study of A Nation At Risk, that first suggested that the world was loosing it roundness. While integration of content area had been debated for decades, it was 2001 researchby Marlene Hurley that may have provided positive evidence for curriculum integration. The content specific TIMSS Tests higher,United States rating over the application based PISA Tests confirmed that students in the United States were not always applying content they learned. The last few years have seen a real spark in STEM education through out the United States, Indiana, and the World. In fact, the STEMed Caucus lists the following reasons forpromotion of STEM education.
 They include:
1. Scientists and engineers who will continue the research and development that is central to the economic growth of our country
2. Technologically proficient workers who are capable of dealing with the demands of a science based, high technology workforce;
3. Scientifically literate voters and citizens who make intelligent decisionsabout public policy and who understand the world around them.
As mentioned earlier, STEM education is growing in the state of Indiana. Thisis due to collaboration of government, defense based industries, business,education, and organizations such as the United States Air force Association. Schools across the state are finding ways to integrate Science,Math, Engineering, and Technology so that students not only better understand the single disciplines, but how they fundamentally relate. It is not unusual to see younger student building their own simple machines, middle school students engaged in a Rube Goldberg activity, while high school students are applying their skills in a solar car competition. Some Indiana examples include the organization of a consortium of Indiana educators, businesses  and government and their use of a $1.5 million grant from the Eli Lilly and CompanyFoundation to train K-12 teachers in a research-developed science curriculumdesigned to better prepare the state's youth for the future. Through PurdueUniversity (ISTEM)The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering,and Melodramatics Resources Network offered professional development workshops to familiarize educators with a new science program to be used by over 150 schools in the 2011 school year. State officials inIndianapolis are also engaged in promoting STEM education though out Indiana.Programs such as PLTW (Project Lead The Way), First Robotics, New Tech HighSchools, and Early College Model High Schools are a few of the programs. Take a look at this web article to learn more about these initiatives.  Ivy Tech is also focused on STEM education and preparation as related to in this news release. Of course Indiana University also has an initiative.

The chapters of the United States Air ForceAssociation have also been instrumental in promoting STEM education through -outthe state. Each chapter elects a STEM educator of the year, and through a state competition selects a candidate to compete at the national level. The UnitedStates Air Force CyberPatriot Program designed as a competition for high school students in STEM based programs is also supported by local chapters. Two examples include anoutstanding presentation by students at the Park Tudor Academy at a 2011 state meeting and a recent $10,000 grant from the Fort Wayne Schwab Foundation to the Air Force Association in order to promote this program in NE Indiana.

As you can see, STEM education is giving students real world practical knowledge and experiences in order to insure their success, and a strong future for the United States. It is imperative that all stake holders through-out the state and our nation continue to recognize the need for STEM and support it through giving of time, knowledge, networking, and funds. Want to learn more about STEM education? Feel free to contact me atthe email address listed below.


Michael Gorman – Educational Technology IntegrationSpecialist and Consultant

Fort Wayne, IN (Southwest Allen County Schools)