Finding ways to improve STEM education at all levels – this is what Science The World is all about.
Why focus on STEM?
The statistic is a little startling when you consider the current focus on science: only 1 in every 10 college degrees is in a STEM field. Other statistics focusing on demographics are disheartening as well: women represent 46 percent of the labor force, but only 10.8 percent of U.S. engineers; minorities make up 34 percent of U.S. population, but only 12 percent of undergraduate engineering degrees.
An effort clearly needs to be made – in particular, studies have shown that students can lose interest in math and science as early as the fourth grade, thus limiting the scientific opportunities and education that may be available later on. Thus, STEM concepts must be made both more applicable and more personal in order for students to maintain their interest, even as the concepts become more difficult.
What methods do we use?
Our research currently has two major thrusts:
- the development of STEM comics for improving K-12, undergraduate, and adult learning/education
- the development of research-inspired STEM modules for K-12 classrooms
How may others participate?
We are specifically looking for involvement from any STEM educator – whether that be for grades K-12, college, museums, or general public learning. Ideally, these educators are interested in using new curricula and are willing to try different approaches to the same core concepts they are familiar with.
Here is how we want to work with you:
- Developing or fine-tuning a STEM module to be implemented in your classroom to provide an experiment, demonstration, or discussion that could enhance student learning
These modules in general are being designed to be appropriate for multiple grade levels (grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12), but with each set of experiments based on introducing different concepts or different complexities. Thus a single experiment can be appropriate for a wide range of student ability levels, and, if repeated by a student with increasing levels of complexity, can help them better understand and relate to the new material.
Our modules are being designed based on current graduate-level research – meaning, they are inspired by work in fields like drug delivery, materials synthesis, and many others – but using these higher-level applications to connect to simpler concepts in physics, chemistry, and biology.
- Developing a science comic that addresses STEM concepts in your classes that students have difficulty with
Our science comics are not meant to replace curriculum, but rather designed to supplement and support learning. By providing a visual depiction of a teacher/professor discussing concepts, students will gain a visual means of revisiting the classroom when their teacher originally taught the subject matter – essentially a visual version of their notes.
We are open to developing comics on concepts that have the potential for broad use, and are working with instructors in different fields to address these subjects.
Non-scientists are welcome as well if you have an interest in testing the complexity of experimental instructions and simplicity of experimental designs.
If you would like to join us as a STEM educator, we openly welcome your involvement! Please contact us and we will get in touch to determine if there is an opportunity for collaboration.
Why focus on K-12?
Much of the current research being done now on the university level is certainly most directly relatable to high school physics, chemistry, biology, or other science classes, based on the difficulty level and concepts being discussed. However, making similar experiments for lower age ranges will help strengthen students’ interest in science at earlier ages, and reproducing the experiments at different levels with new focuses will allow for students to build off core concepts and make higher level information more relatable and readily grasped. Similarly, improving younger students’ learning through comics is a different and fun way to help students develop deeper understanding and remain more enthusiastic about science in general.
What is the cost to educators?
We are aware that it may be expensive to revamp any experiment or to procure the materials necessary to develop a new STEM module. In consideration of this limitation, we specifically attempt to design cheap and cost-effective curricula that can be readily purchased and/or assembled by all teachers. Any lesson plans, discussion outlines, experimental procedures, or other learning materials that do not require shipping will be provided free of charge – some physical equipment may require purchasing, but this will also be minimal.
In addition, STEM comics are freely available for educators to use as best helps their students learn.
What is the timeline for involvement?
Group members are currently working on new curricula for teachers to use. As assessment will be necessary to allow for further improvement, and to better construct connected experiments, long-term collaborations are certainly desirable.