Sixty-five percent of today’s jobs require Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills. Three-quarters of the fastest growing occupations demand substantial math and science preparation, and those numbers are expected to rise. A STEM education will be essential in the work world of today’s children.
The Mebane Foundation has a rich history of employing and investing in these fundamental STEM principles to design and implement projects which boost student achievement by creating 21st century classroom learning environments taught by top-notch teachers.
In 2012, Moore County Schools received a $2 million + three-year commitment/partnership to launch an innovative professional development model for K-12 teachers known as “STEM Infusion.”
STEM Infusion encourages and enhances learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and other subjects to ensure children receive excellent educations that open doors for them to greater career opportunities and more fulfilling, successful lives.
Our innovative STEM Infusion program, featuring intensive use of computer technology under the supervision of highly trained teachers committed to this education model, offers a marked increase in the percentage of students from all demographic groups successfully completing challenging STEM courses and pursuing post-secondary STEM careers.
The research and best practices tell us that the most effective way to increase student achievement is through top-quality professional development for 21st century teachers that includes intensive coaching, mentoring, and on-going support delivered on school sites.
The STEM Infusion program will implement problem-, project-, inquiry-based teaching methodologies and learning experiences as the standard venue for delivering integrated curricula across subject areas. This approach will establish best practices for our students to acquire and enhance content knowledge, develop communication skills, collaborate, problem-solve, and self-direct their learning as they learn in simulated job contexts. Including community STEM experts and resources is a critical element in the program’s success. Teachers and program participants will be trained in these methodologies, and world-class curricular materials will be included.
Expanding upon the the success of the Mebane Masters program, STEM Infusion facilitated further STEM innovation through the creation of three, 5-member traveling teaching teams that provided training and assistance wherever needed throughout the Moore County school system. Each STEM team was composed of a highly skilled and experienced teacher, a beginning teacher, and three student teachers. These elementary, middle, and high-school teams assisted classroom teachers with creating and delivering high-quality, relevant, interdisciplinary STEM instruction by integrating technology and problem solving in their classes. A new website was also established by the STEM team to share resources, including lesson plans.
Data showed that:
- End-of-grade results showed improvement in student achievement growth in classrooms where teachers adopted the STEM Infusion approach to teaching and learning in relation to teachers in the same grade level who did use STEM Infusion.
- Benchmark data from 5th grade science indicates a strong correlation between the amount of exposure to STEM Infusion lessons and student performance on the benchmark assessments tests.
- Gains in student achievement between pre and post-tests for each lesson taught remained high. The average student grade on the lesson pre-test was 49% and the average post-test was 89%. Statistically, the change in student achievement from pre to post-test is extremely significant.
For additional detail, feel free to download our Stem Infusion – Results and Final Recommendations Report.
STEM Infusion was designed to create and implement a replicable, sustainable model for all of North Carolina school systems. We believe the program has the potential to deliver a marked increase in the percentages of students across diverse groups successfully completing challenging STEM courses, then pursuing post-secondary STEM careers and educational opportunities.
To be successful, collaboration and program buy-in from business, industry and all community partners and stakeholders is imperative. Before launching the program in a school system, the formation of a project advisory board that meets quarterly to assist in project oversight, quality control and community involvement is a necessity. And to build and sustain community/stakeholder support, community gatherings to share information and to solicit suggestions for improving the program are imperative.
Consistent with our Guiding Principles, potential partners must build in processes and procedures that will ensure financial, philosophical, organizational, community sustainability. To ensure sustainability, it is critical that school systems attempting to integrate the model adopt board policies that embed the district’s STEM philosophy and goals, STEM diploma criteria, program-implementation expectations, and professional-development requirements in order to clearly align and prioritize them in district budgets.