Teaching STEM

STEM Academy Looks To Bolster Teacher Competency

Last month, President Obama put forth the call to schools, organizations, corporations, and the country at large to renew America's global competitive edge in innovation, specifically by promoting substantially greater interest in both education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In response to the president's call, and working in partnership with Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Discovery Education, and the College Board, Siemens has announced the launch of a nationwide initiative, the Siemens STEM Academy.

The STEM Academy will offer a series of professional development opportunities, both hands-on and multimedia, to engage educators and significantly advance their mastery of STEM in terms of literacy, experimentation and analysis, and practical application.

The 2010 STEM Academy will launch with four primary components.

1. Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs) is a two-week residential professional development and research immersion program for selected middle and high school teachers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the country's largest multi-purpose national research laboratory, located in Oak Ridge, TN.  Teachers will have the unique opportunity to engage with top scientists and researchers on short-term research projects related to current topics of national interest.  Through research, professional scientific collaboration, and educational enhancements, the program offers insights, resources, and scientific contacts that educators can bring back to the classroom.  Applications are currently being accepted, through March 1, and can be found here.

2. Siemens STEM Institute is a week-long STEM immersion program that will enable 50 selected teachers to gather and engage with today's critical science thinkers and other peers across the nation and visit leading institutions to see real-world applications of STEM subject matters.  In addition, the Institute also will include monthly professional development opportunities, support, and additional tools and resources designed to further inspire student achievement in STEM education.

3. "Brains of Science Connect" Webinar Series is a monthly Webinar series that gives educators the chance to interact with today's eminent scientists, personalities, and thought-leaders and extend that experience to their students through customized, standards-based content. Recently the Academy presented Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, pioneering string theorist, and host of the Science Channel's "Sci-Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible." Upcoming Webinars include:

  • "Top Ten STEM Resources" with STEM Academy's own Patti Duncan. (Feb. 17, 7 p.m. ET);
  • "Using Technology to Create New Knowledge" (March 8, 7 p.m. ET);
  • "Getting Started with Project Based Learning (PBL)" (April 8, 7 p.m. ET); and
  • "Layers of Learning with Google Earth" (May 4, 7 p.m. ET).

4. The STEM Academy portal offers a plethora of lesson plans, activities, and multimedia resources aimed at helping educators engage students through interaction and discussion, presentations, and immersive study of particular STEM topics. Academy users can search these materials by grade bracket (3-5, 6-8, 9-12) and subject. The materials can be browsed and accessed at the Teacher Resources page.

Also soon to be available at the STEM Academy portal is an online community designed to foster STEM achievement through discussion, collaboration, and the sharing of best practices.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.