Empowering Women in STEM: Embedding STEM in K-12 Education

Empowering Women in STEM: Embedding STEM in K-12 Education

Gretchen Dietz (University of Mount Union, USA), Julie Hessedence (University of Mount Union, USA), Terry Long (University of Mount Union, USA) and Helen E. Muga (University of Mount Union, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2212-6.ch004
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Abstract

This chapter covers a project that was part of an I3 (Ideas, Innovation, Invention) challenge within a global engineering, junior course at University of Mount Union. The course exposes engineering students to global societal challenges and their solutions. Of importance in this project is the need to boost numbers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and the need to increase diversity. With this in mind, the team developed and tested five different activities that involved different areas of STEM that were both fun and didactic in nature. Each activity had an associated module to allow for assessment of understanding. An orange buoyancy module, a strength of paper module, a soil erosion module, a simple circuit module, and a simple electric motor module were developed. They were tested on K-5 students at Washington Elementary School, Alliance, OH and on K-5 students at Ollas Arriba Elementary School, Panama City, Panama.
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Background

As the world progresses into the 21st century, so too does the need for education embedded with modern technology and its implementation in developing countries. Within the past decade, STEM Education has become an international topic of interest because of its influence in a changing economy and workforce demands.

As a result of these global pressures, there has been a shortage of STEM-prepared workers and educators in many countries around the world (Kennedy & Odell, 2014). The need for STEM educated persons is vital for the progression and implementation of modern technology as STEM related fields explicitly involve the use of science, technology, engineering, and math. Without these fields or the further education of personnel, many countries and its citizens will fall behind in their global competitiveness.

STEM-related fields have been a focus since the late 1990s to the point where it has drawn adequate funding in the US, UK and Australia ever since. In order to understand the relation between STEM related education and developing countries, the first step would be to understand the deep history and progression of STEM itself. Each country contains its own distinct cultural background, full of unique social norms and customs. Because of this, the topics of education and schooling vary discretely from one country to another. These topics are in a constant fixation on new and evolving political, social, economic, and global connections. Drawing from these connections one can begin to see the possibilities of evolution and integration in a different context. To synthesize a new educational system in a developing society, we can first examine different areas in the world and how they incorporate an effective innovative system to achieve an effective lead on the global economy.

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