An answer to your question! #10 “How do we bridge the gap between public and private STEM initiatives?”

Eric asks:

The BIG question for me is how to best bridge the gap between public and private initiatives like this. STEM is currently a buzzword in our local public schools. The motivation to do something is there, but the funding is not. Here’s my question: How do we get we get the private sector to help fund these new programs? The current federal and state government education system has failed us. If we rely on them as we have to make it work, history will repeat itself.

Ranting aside, here’s my publishable question – how do we create an online database of private resources that can help us further STEM education?

I COULDN’T AGREE WITH YOU MORE….but we need to approach this with a level head. The idea of bridging the gap between the public and private sector boils down to the capabilities and abilities of the individual teacher. They need to have the willingness to push their curriculum and students into the future, rather then continue on with laminated (this is not a joke) notes. The second key is the administration/school board. Without the support of your administration, pushing forward becomes an even more difficult task, relying on the individual teachers own good graces to afford the students opportunities above the standardized curriculum, often through after-school activities/clubs.

Once the teacher has the desire to investigate higher level STEM initiatives they need to begin researching potential sources of funding as they typically go beyond the individual teachers budget…if they even have one. Like you suggested above, there just so happen to be such databases. Here are just a few:

The Afterschool Alliance – A series of resources specifically for funding STEM after school programs.
NSF – Provides programs and contact information for NSF direct/indirect funding for students, training and curriculum development. – Provides 111+ funding opportunities for STEM related grants, fellowships, scholarships, awards and competitions.
Grant Wrangler – Provides info regarding math education grants, technology school grants, and science grants for K-12 schools and teachers.

One of the coolest things about getting outside funding for your STEM project is to have the students directly involved. I have found that it is incredibly valuable for your students to solicit their own donations or grants from an industry rep. Not only do they learn a life skill, but it gives them ownership of the project beyond the dreaded grade.

As we have seen from previous posts, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) is a really hot topic. Its kind of a funny acronym that seems to produce very “colorful” reactions and I honestly think it should just be called S&M due to the lack of support and understanding of Technology Education….but an educational acronym called S&M might raise some eyebrows. In my opinion, the ultimate goal of our school systems should be to provide our students with the most beneficial educational experience possible and our teachers the resources to do so. If following STEM initiatives, no matter how big, is the way to do so, then I am all in. But I am willing to guess that anyone reading this post has had at least one inspirational teacher in your past and it probably didn’t require a STEM initiative to do so, just a good teacher.

I hope this answers your question and keep up your excitement about inspiring students!

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1 Comment

  1. In the colleges, it would seem to me that they are doing research or collaboration for those who are sponsoring them.

    I think the way to push it forward is to create a product and to have a mentor in the public sector pushing it forward. The product will help pay for the learning.

    I thought about bringing microcontrollers into my son’s elementary school but what would be the acceptance / commitment rate? If it is a lot of money, people aren’t going to do it. If I make the cost low then there may be more involvement. I think the success is whether you can get adults who know the subject matter to donate time after school to help teach these children.

    And I think you need to show the average adult that you are going to teach these kids some learning that isn’t going to be behind the times or obsolete in a few years. You have to teach them understanding rather than just to copy what others do.

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