Schools Must Ignite and Inspire Students for STEM Engagement

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To the Editor:

The United States has long been a global leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, but we are not on track to maintain this historical pre-eminence. The reason is our country's workforce-skills gap.

The 2012 test results from the Program for International Student Assessment ranked American students 23rd in science achievement and 30th in math ability out of 65 countries. The countries that consistently perform at the top include China, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.

Despite these rankings, a delegation of science and technology leaders from South Korea recently traveled to Los Angeles to see firsthand what American students are doing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

Project Lead The Way—an organization dedicated to stem training in schools, for which I work—hosted the group. We took them to see Da Vinci Science High School in Hawthorne, Calif., a charter school certified by Project Lead The Way, where they visited with students and teachers in several of the engineering courses.

The Korean visitors said they were highly impressed with the students' immersion in their learning. Students were engaged, they were collaborating, and they were learning the content through hands-on activities and projects. At the end of the delegation's visit, they were so inspired that they requested to attend Project Lead The Way's teacher-training program next summer.

In our nation's elementary, middle, and high schools, we aren't effectively engaging, inspiring, or preparing all students for the global workforce in which they must compete for good jobs and opportunities. We need to ignite and inspire students' creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills in the classroom. We can show them why subjects like math and science matter, and we can regain the excellence we've long experienced as a nation.

But we have to start in each classroom. And we have to start now.

Vince Bertram
President and Chief Executive Officer
Project Lead The Way
Indianapolis, Ind.

Vol. 34, Issue 11, Page 26

Published in Print: November 5, 2014, as Schools Must Ignite and Inspire Students for STEM Engagement
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