Opinion
Executive Skills & Strategy Letter to the Editor

Inventor Calls Science Standards a First Step

April 22, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

As a boy growing up in the United Kingdom, my learning often began once school was dismissed. On any given day, I could be found disassembling machines—stripping lawn mowers down to parts, then rebuilding them with the purpose of improving them (not always successfully). That was the extent of my after-school education, but it helped to shape my in-school outcomes.

The Afterschool Alliance study released in January outlines three achievable outcomes for after-school programming: the development of interest in, the capacity to productively engage with, and the knowledge to value the goals of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics learning activities. However, some of the findings in the report would have us believe that after-school stem education doesn’t affect the education outcomes of students while in school.

The Next Generation Science Standards are a first step in the right direction to improve in-school stem education (“Standards in Science Unveiled,” April 17, 2013). They inspire young people to explore real-world problems and find solutions through inventive thinking and the application of various scientific disciplines, like engineering, while in the classroom.

I agree that we can’t pique students’ interest in class unless we dispel the myth of white lab coats, complex formulas, beakers, and calculations. Students must understand that stem education is exciting and creative—and the key to solving future problems.

I started my foundation in the United Kingdom in 2002 (and later in the United States) to encourage young minds to use their hands as well as their heads to solve problems and pursue engineering as a career. We do this through after-school clubs and engineering workshops, and by providing our Engineering Box to schools so that students can disassemble a vacuum cleaner to learn how the mechanics work.

If we want to excite children and create a culture of students equipped to tackle the problems of the 21st century, learning-through-doing must be the model, not just the example—in or outside the classroom.

James Dyson

Founder and Chief Engineer

Dyson Inc.

Malmesbury, Wiltshire

United Kingdom

The writer founded the James Dyson Foundation in the United States in 2011 to support design and engineering education.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 24, 2013 edition of Education Week as Inventor Calls Science Standards a First Step

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Executive Skills & Strategy 'Genius Hour' Lets Kids Take Charge: Would Einstein Have Liked This?
Teachers open doors for students to fuel their curiosity and pursue passion projects, but educators warn against making it a free-for-all.
10 min read
Quin, Ezra, and Owen participate in genius hour in teacher Melisa Hayes’ 2nd grade class at Avery Elementary School in Hilliard, Ohio.
Quin, Ezra, and Owen participate in genius hour in teacher Melisa Hayes’ 2nd grade class at Avery Elementary School in Hilliard, Ohio.
Maddie McGarvey
Executive Skills & Strategy K12 Inc., Ga. Cyber Academy Contract Battle Brews
Students locked out of their school's computer systems. Educators unable to get access to some students' records. Parents receiving emails asking that they return their children's laptops.
6 min read
Executive Skills & Strategy Report Roundup Research Report: Teaching
Forty percent of what elementary school teachers do on a typical workday could be automated by 2030, predicts a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute.
1 min read
Executive Skills & Strategy One Superintendent's Approach to Pragmatic, Sustainable Tech Leadership
When it comes to school technology, Superintendent Doug Brubaker emphasizes robust infrastructure, regular refresh cycles, and training. Taxpayers and teachers are buying into the practical approach.
7 min read