Thursday, December 29, 2016

A STEM-Related Career

Image result for ecology

Environmental & Science Education
History of Science
Edward Hessler

Almost 40 years have passed since Rodger Bybee wrote a paper which still resonates with me. Bybee is the former director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. (BSCS) He has had a strong hand in two standards projects, the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and the Next Generation Science Standards.(NGSS)  Earlier in his career, Bybee was a faculty member at Carleton College, Northfield.

In several papers, Bybee made a case that science education  was in a period of transformation concerning its aims.  He argued for growth toward an ecological society and made suggestions for the role of science, especially biology, in what he considered an emerging ecological society.

We know, of course, that this trajectory of change did not occur. I still like the idea!

Bybee noted that science education should prepare its citizens to make responsible decisions concerning science-related personal and social issues and the National Science Education Standards included this as a major strand. He noted three areas for discussion: problems of lifetime (conception, abortion, birth control, death and dying), lifespace (pollution, crowding, urban issues), and lifestyle (affluence, poverty, consumption, conservation). 

Bybee also drew attention to another goal of science education: career awareness, noting that "the aim has never achieved major importance" in science education. He also did not feature careers in his series of papers.

The papers and others may be found in Reforming Science Education: Social Perspectives & Personal Reflections (1993).

I thought of Bybee's concerns as well as of the role of STEM education when I viewed a film I've now watched twice.  The film, 13 and a half-minutes long, is deeply moving and wrenching.

STEM education is natural territory for incorporating and making use of STEM careers in the context of learning rather than as an add-on. We sometimes think of STEM somewhat narrowly, i.e., leading to careers in medicine, science and engineering. However, the reach of STEM is wide and deep.  There are many opportunities for students in STEM-related careers.

One of these (in health care) is featured in this film. It might be called "have a valise of health care tools and will travel." It is the story of a nurse-family program in Texas.

PS— STEM was first known as SMET.  I think you'll agree that the new acronym rolls off the tongue much more pleasantly! Even invitingly. SMET puts a period after it.

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