From STEM to STREAMby Virginia Wallace
From STEM to STREAM: How the Diocese of Buffalo plans to embrace the 21st century with its own twist.
In an address in September 2010 called Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership, President Barack Obama stated "The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects."
According to the report, "the United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations."
In an economic climate where jobs are scarce, the good news is that figures from the Department of Commerce indicate that in the past 10 years, STEM jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and that trend is likely to continue and accelerate. The bad news is that the US is currently not producing enough candidates who are either able or interested in the positions.
A National Science Foundation report confirmed the shortage in the available pool of applicants when, in 2011, it stated there were between two and three million unfilled positions in the STEM related areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
With a master's degree in mathematics and a self described "techie" Secretary for Education, for the Diocese of Buffalo, Carol Kostyniak, not only takes this void in the STEM subjects seriously, she takes it personally.
As part of the revitalization currently being undertaken within the elementary schools of the diocese, a survey was made available to the various stakeholders in November and early December. Among other items, the survey revealed that parents are eager for new and enhanced programs, especially in science and technology. Almost 2200 individuals responded many indicated they want updated facilities, rigorous, faith-based learning and a Catholic education that is available and affordable.
To address the desires of both administration and parents, beginning this spring and for the next three years, a program called STREAM will be introduced and implemented in our elementary schools. It expands on the concept of STEM, adding the Arts end Religion to create STREAM. The goal of STREAM is to prepare 21st century students for a 21st century world. Students will be engaged from an early age and may study subjects like robotics, architecture, space exploration and technical design wrapped around a values-based foundation.
STREAM is just one of the many new ideas which will be implemented into our Catholic elementary schools in the coming years.