Recently, I had the opportunity to talk in depth with several friends who have taught for years, and now are administrators at the building and district level. All of them highlighted the role that technology is playing and the immense impact it will have on teaching both today and in the near future. Of particular focus was describing the key activities that are driving success for teachers in gaining and improving student engagement. Let’s face it, there are a tremendous and growing number of distractions competing for student hearts and minds in and out of the classroom. Our mission at STEM Jobs is to help teachers win this battle with great content that is classroom ready. In fact, one great way to get off on the right foot is to subscribe to our digital edition at: stemjobs.com.

In the mean time, here’s a few practical suggestions for engaging your students in STEM subjects and answering that all too frequent question, “when will I ever need this?”

[su_accordion][su_spoiler title=”You’ll Make More Money”] You’ll make more money: Research from the National Center for Education Statistics among numerous other research reports clearly links STEM subjects to higher income, $15,000 to be exact. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014141.pdf [/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”You’ll get a job”]You are more likely to get a job and keep it: STEM majors experience shorter and less unemployment, and for every STEM worker there are three STEM job openings. That’s a lot of opportunity, but even more, graduates with a STEM background are hired into Non-STEM positions at such a rate that STEM jobs constantly go unfilled. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014141.pdf [/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Hands-on”]STEM is the easiest path to hands on learning: A number of studies link hands-on science experiences with more positive impressions of science. http://www.csun.edu/~bfoley/Foley&McPhee%20AERA08.pdf In discussion with a number of women who started in STEM majors and then changed before graduation, they all indicated that they loved the labs, but became bored and disenchanted in the theory. There are a plethora of ways to connect STEM to hands on learning to excite the mind like a good novel does in an English literature class.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”You can change the world”]Through STEM, you really can change the world: The last thirty years of economic studies indicate that STEM lies at the heart of all major global innovation. The world faces major issues today and into the future, issues that can only be solved through the help of technology and the kinds of skills that are developed through STEM disciplines. If you want to make a difference, focus on STEM.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”It really is cool”]STEM = Sports, Technology, Entertainment & Music: STEM is everywhere, it is the major driving force behind the majority of topics students love. Why compete when you can pull the day’s most distracting topic, crack it open and reveal the STEM behind it. That’s the secret recipe behind STEM jobs, take the topics that students love and show them why it is that they love it.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”You can Do what you love”]#DoWhatYouLove: On our own survey, 98% of our student responders indicated that they want to do what they love for a career. We’re not sure about the other 2%, but this is essentially the dream we’ve all had at some point. If you’re going to spend the rest of your life doing something, you may as well enjoy it. There are STEM Jobs everywhere, and even in industries that hire very few people (like the film industry), they are always hiring STEM talent.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Travel the world”]STEM can be your ticket to see the world: Whether it’s fighting ebola as a health professional, or designing the latest green energy technology in Australia, STEM Jobs are in global demand. If you’re interested in seeing a little more the world, why not get paid to do so, and have someone pick up the tab on your moving expenses, travel, vacation packages, and maybe even your advanced degree.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Go ahead and fail”]Make Failure a Goal: Students hate tests, we all hate tests because they are essentially punitive in nature. STEM, however, relies on tests and frankly, on failure to drive innovation and improvement. In the real world, failure is a sign of progress and can be utilized to measure engagement and risk. A number of educators are beginning to embrace a different approach to grading … where the level of effort a student shows after failure is graded rather than the one-off test itself.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Give me your best guess”]Test intuition: Rather than testing on knowledge, test on the insight that knowledge provides. Challenging students to guess the lottery, or a sports outcome, or the time it takes to sell out a rock concert, or the number of times a news anchor says a certain word … these are all fun and interesting things that can engage students in STEM processes. Here’s some interesting ideas based around the lottery: https://medium.com/for-for-thought-for-rainy-days/how-to-win-the-lottery-or-have-an-ipo-ing-startup-7d181371ca1[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”This is actually an Art class”]Use Art, Literature, News, Politics, etc to teach STEM: Use the things that students love, or things that they are comfortable with as the springboard to teach more challenging topics. Run a survey or experiment via twitter or snapchat, delve into classic literature for a math or physics problem (Sherlock Holmes anyone?). The arts provide the best arenas to experience and experiment and learn STEM, from Chemistry to physics to math … perhaps it’s time to team up with that art or music teacher, or your coach, and open a whole new world to an otherwise uninterested audience.[/su_spoiler]

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