By Geoff Rose
One of the prevalent arguments for increasing STEM learning in Massachusetts schools is to ensure that we have the educated workforce needed to compete in an increasingly high-tech 21st-century economy. But another advantage to STEM learning is how it helps narrow the opportunity gap that many students of color face.
As the principal of the K-8 Perry School in Boston, I am proud that we are bringing the power of STEM to our students. The Perry first ran STEM Week in 2016 with the help of i2 Learning, a nonprofit that partners with schools to transform their classrooms into STEM learning labs. They supply teacher training, curriculum, and materials at no cost. For me that is a game-changing idea. Resources are always a challenge and this allows every middle school to participate. I love the equity of that model and the opportunity it has offered our students.
That first year was a huge success, and it acted as a catalyst for the school to launch similar curriculums and develop new programs. We coined the terms STEMomentum during the fall, and DeSTEMber as a time to celebrate and reflect on what had been accomplished during STEM month; we launched a new computer science class with grant funding; and now three-quarters of the Perry’s specialty teachers are STEM-based.
But more important, it helped us to continue to chip away at that opportunity gap. It does that by giving our students learning experiences designed to enable access and agency. Students have access to materials, and they become their own agents to learn using those materials.
We at the Perry are big on social-emotional learning, and STEM is a great educational model to easily incorporate that for our students and for students across Massachusetts.