When we first had the idea for this series, we had planned to write a different post for each of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. But, the more research we do into STEM initiatives, the more we see that this approach would be antithetical to the cause. The concept underlying STEM education is to give students the opportunity to do projects and ask questions that require more than one of these disciplines in order to answer them. You can use math to figure out how to answer a scientific question by engineering a piece of technology. for instance.
So rather than trying to tease out the individual subjects, we will be bringing you a series of resources to inspire our triathletes. In prior years, our program has mostly employed science and math in the Face-Off! round of each meet, but now you can expect to see more STEM appearing in Mind Sprints and P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box challenges as well. Alison Weaverdyck, our curriculum guru and head writer, has over 10 years experience working with kids in informal science settings, such as the Science Museum of Minnesota and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and she has exciting new ideas for bringing science to life for middle school students.
In the meantime, you should definitely take a look at some of the resources available through the federal government for making STEM subjects accessible for the next generation. In 2014, Washington DC hosted the largest gathering in US history, and it was all about celebrating science. We can’t hope to encapsulate the experience of the 650,000+ participants better than the video created for their website, which is below.
This website for the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival (which is unfortunately on the same date as the US Academic Triathlon state meet) is chock-full of short videos that draw on the mission of STEM education. Speakers knew they would be addressing an audience of young people and tailored their subject matter and level of complexity to be kid-accessible. For instance, future scientists can learn about the physics of super heroes, how the film Fantasia inspired one scientist to improve the world’s visual science vocabulary, and how engineering concepts go into Nike footwear.
Those videos are available here and on the festival’s YouTube channel.