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STEM teachers share knowledge at institute

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - We've been reporting a lot on the 17 classrooms at George Washington High School that will go offline for the duration of first quarter to undergo science, technology, engineering, and math renovations. But what is STEM?

Untalan Middle School science teacher Vince Aguon believes it's time to get students excited to learn, and that STEM education does just that. "We're trying to get the trend of traditional teaching, textbooks, notes, writing. we're trying to change that into small group work among the students so they can learn among each other, and more or less the teacher is there to provide guidance and not just stand up there and tell them what to do," he said.

Last year, Aguon was one of dozens from Untalan, George Washington High School, and Price Elementary School trained in STEM. STEM education is part of President Barack Obama's initiative "Educate to Innovate" after scores showed that American students ranked 21st out of 30 in science literacy and 25th out of 30 in math literacy in the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment.

Assistant professor with the University of Guam Sea Grant Laura Biggs says today's institute is a result of a partnership between the UOG Sea Grant and DOE. Along with sharing ideas on how to implement STEM curriculum in the classroom, the institute worked on localizing lesson plans to make them relevant to the island's students. "Hopefully we're getting our teachers to feel more comfortable with science and teach it more readily in their classrooms everyday," she said.

Despite talks of upcoming STEM renovations at GW and Untalan Middle School's Barrigada campus, Aguon says it's the teacher's responsibility to create the right learning environment. "STEM is actually the program. The STEM classroom is what you make of it. Otherwise it's just four concrete walls you need to get the atmosphere into the classroom, that's what makes it a STEM classroom," she said.

Today's fifty participating teachers will receive a Professional Development Credit as well as a supply kit to implement the lessons into their classroom.

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