Sally Ride Science Academy is hosting a major event this summer – a program designed to help mathematics and science teachers to increase their students’ interest in STEM disciplines. The program has existed for a few years now and has helped over 5,000 high-school teachers from all over the U.S.
Teachers are trained to introduce STEM to young students in the way that will encourage and inspire them to continue learning these disciplines at universities and colleges. They are given tools to help students increase their STEM awareness.
Apart from that teachers are lectured on the issue of gender-based differences that require different approaches to teaching. It has long since been proved that boys and girls adopt information differently and at a different pace, especially the information that is related to science and technology. Gender-based differences cannot be neglected when it comes to teaching STEM, because it will result in many girls’ thinking about science and computers as of “boys stuff”. Teachers are explained how to break these stereotypes in classroom environment and present information in adoptable ways.
People who researched the problem believe that STEM interest starts in the family where a child learns from parents about “things for boys” and “things for girls”. Parents often unknowingly inspire STEM anxiety in their children long before they actually take these courses at school. Kids often start school being prejudiced against STEM disciplines. Thus, it is the teacher’s job to make them open-minded again.
However the problem is that not many teachers know how to do it, especially when they have to deal with girls’ attitude to science.
Scientists say that children aged 9 to 13 are usually much more responsive to new information and that is when teachers have to do their best trying to engage students into learning STEM disciplines. That is also a critical age for girls who start to feel gender-based pressure in STEM classes. It is teachers’ high-priority objective to help girls overcome gender barriers.
But due to the lack of STEM teaching preparation we can see teachers who are pushing instead of challenging and imposing instead of encouraging. This is how we came to understand the importance of this “train-the-trainer” program aimed at preparing teachers to help students meet the challenges of the 21 century global economy.
Inspiring teachers and making them see this situation in a new perspective will eventually help to change the problem of low STEM awareness and poor academic achievements in these fields.