Promoting STEM education outside the classroom

stemcoverThe advancement of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education is a popular topic these days, but much if not most of the publicity it garners is about how these subjects are taught in schools. But an enormous amount of everyone’s formative experience of technology, as well as the subject matter of the sciences, is gained beyond the school’s walls, at home, in young people’s social activities with peers, via play, hobbies, entertainment, general mass media consumed in many forms, and in after-school, summer and informal programs. In recognition of this extra-scholastic framework of our earliest responses to the excitement of the sciences (or their forbidding character, depending on how they’re first presented to us), the US’s national Board on Science Education and National Research Council have published the report Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings. It’s intended for local, state and federal policymakers, but its subject deserves attention from a much wider audience including journalists, teachers, community activity organizers, companies that produce educational materials, parents and anyone who cares about our national ability to interest America’s young people in science and technology. Read the executive summary here now. If it leaves you wanting more, the same website will enable you to order a hard copy of the report or read a free copy online.