Staying Relevant Through STEM

Story by Daniel Granderson / Image by Mars P on Flickr

The four pillars of STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—already shape nearly every aspect of our lives, and Adventist educational leaders, if interested in staying relevant in a business-minded world, must embrace its effects. It’s becoming clear that American business leaders of tomorrow are the STEM students of today.

That smartphone glued to your palm? STEM. The homes we live in and the roads we drive on? STEM. “Increasingly, STEM-driven education is making curricular inroads in our schools, bringing greater instructional emphasis to the strategic methodologies and instructional linkage between science and math curricula,” says Hamlet Canosa, vice president of education for the Columbia Union Conference. “Of course, what remains pre-eminent is our emphasis in infusing the Adventist worldview and values in all areas of instruction.”

Yet, as important as STEM is in our modern world, it is likely to be even more important to our children, especially when it comes to their job prospects. Forbes’ annual list of the 10 hardest jobs to fill in America almost always includes engineers, IT professionals, accounting staff, as well as mechanics and machinists. It’s no wonder that STEM education has become a priority in public and private schools alike.

“I believe that a STEM program prepares our students for the workforce of the future, of which about 70-80 percent of the jobs will be in the STEM fields or will need STEM training,” says Ophelia Barizo, vice principal for advancement and STEM coordinator at Highland View Academy (HVA) in Hagerstown, Md.

At HVA, Barizo oversees a program that requires STEM students to not only take math and science high school courses, but also to learn robotics, app development, project-based learning and computer science, in addition to completing a STEM internship. HVA also offers STEM outreach activities, which include an after-school STEM outreach, a STEM lecture series and STEMFest, which drew 500  people last October.

At Takoma Academy (TA) in Takoma Park, Md., math and science teacher David Hooker notes that, over the past several years, the school’s STEM  program has already increased the number of students in higher level classes, such as pre-calculus and physics. As a result, TA established a robotics club, a National Society for Black Engineers club and a HOSA club for future health professionals. The clubs offer not only opportunities for educational field trips, but also allow students to compete nationally with other schools and to find internships. “The net result is better qualified graduates,” says Hooker.