Tech Town hosted a workshop from MIT’s Solve team yesterday evening. I attended only due to a chance meeting with Paul Riser, Jr. when I was accompanying teachers looking at Tech Town as a potential field trip site. It turned out to be a snowy evening to trundle downtown, but I’m glad I went as I think Solve presents an interesting approach to tackling social issues.
Since the 1990’s, the National Science Foundation has emphasized the need to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and retain students within the STEM pipeline to propel them to related careers. This call to action is a result of an innovation-driven economy where an increasing number of careers will require STEM skills, but where the majority of students in the United States are not proficient in these fields and have fallen behind their peers on international assessments, resulting in employers who lack qualified applicants to fill STEM positions (National Research Council, 2011). Even after decades of efforts with billions of federal funds allocated to STEM programs each year, there still exists ambiguity over how to best teach STEM, including how closely to integrate the fields within instruction (Sanders, 2009).