by Krystal Paco
Guam - We've been hearing a lot about science, technology, engineering, and math renovations to our island's campuses, but what is the STEM program? A five-part STEM informational video series was presented this weekend at the University of Guam.
"We want the families to understand what exactly is going on in our stem classrooms," explained Department of Education school program consultant Eloise Sanchez, adding that says parents should know their children will be ready for the 21st century thanks to skills they'll learn through STEM curriculum. "We're looking at divergent learners were looking at creativity were looking at inquiry-based; we want the kids to ask questions because the more questions they ask the more they want to learn what is being taught."
Untalan Middle School STEM teacher Vincent Aguon says stem curriculum strays from traditional teaching methods of presenting information through note taking and handouts but encourages students to work in groups where the teacher becomes a facilitator.
Even if the STEM program is piloting only at UMS, George Washington High School, and Price Elementary, all DOE teachers will get exposure to the teaching methods. "For example, instead of giving notes or opening a textbook on living things you could bring in a couple of different reptiles just put it out there and have the students brainstorm the differences the adaptations and just come up with their own ideas and then maybe after ten minutes they can share their ideas with the classroom and that actually will cover at least half of what the teacher would've taught. But it's the student that came up with the idea, and so there's more retention and more interest in what's to come," he said.
UOG School of Education dean and professor of education Dr. Frankie Laanan reports students throughout the nation and locally aren't showing proficiency in math and science - a problem that gets worse through the grade levels. "For example, Grade 1 about 17% of first graders are below proficiency. As they move forward to fifth grade increases to 71% below proficiency in mathematics 10th grade it increases to 86% by the time they graduate it's 93%."
Teachers enforcing STEM curriculum, especially elementary educators, must have strong content knowledge as well as understanding of how to apply the discipline to the real world. "Whether you're teaching a 1st grader, a 5th grader, a 12th grader is how to unpack a theory and apply it to the real world so students can apply it to their setting," he said.
For more information, visit GuamSTEM.com.