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Stem Is Not Just A Four Individually Lettered Word

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Recruiting, Retention and Diversity in Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1300.1 - 12.1300.10



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Paper Authors


Tim Brower Oregon Institute of Technology

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Tim L. Brower is a professor and chair of the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering and Technology Department at Oregon Institute of Technology. He is the Affiliate Director of Project Lead The Way-Oregon. Prior to entering academia in 1998, he was a lead engineer for Lockheed Martin Corp. in Littleton, CO.

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Richard Grimsley Project Lead The Way

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T. Richard Grimsley is the Associate Vice President for Project Lead The Way®. Prior to joining PLTW™ in October, 2001, he served as Director of Technology Education for the Texas education agency. He taught technology education for seven years and has worked in both manufacturing and construction. He has served on a multitude of committees and has been recognized for his service with such awards as the Association of Texas Technology Education Hall of Honor in 2001 and the International Technology Education Association’s 1999 Leader to Watch.

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Pam Newberry Project Lead The Way

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Pam B. Newberry is the Director of Pre-Engineering Curriculum for Project Lead The Way, Inc. PLTW is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that provides pre-engineering curricula for schools in 47 states and over 1600 schools. Prior to joining PLTW in July 2002, she served as the Associate Director for the International Technology Education Associatios Technology for All Americans Project for five years. She taught technology education and mathematics for 10 years. During that time, she was an Albert Einstein Fellow in 1996 and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching in 1994.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

STEM is Not Just a Four Individually Lettered Word


We have all heard combinations of the words science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM bantered about throughout the halls of education. Unfortunately, most of the bantering takes place in individual, academic disciplines or silos with like-minded colleagues, all shaking their heads as to why the folks in the other silos just do not understand their approach. This is not surprising. As we specialize, we become more focused in “our own true and tried methods of teaching” and dig deeper into these silos. However, teachers that may have influenced their students the most were likely passionate about their field and the courses they taught. They worked hard to show the relevance and interconnectedness to what their students were learning. These teachers were there to wet their students’ whistle by demonstrating how important it was to finish and succeed in all STEM-related sequences, not just the ones they were teaching. These are the teachers who should define STEM and who are needed to excite, not just the top 10% of students, but the next 70% of the entire student population.

One of the biggest challenges facing our nation today is the dwindling number of American scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians at a time when we are facing increased competition from other countries. This critical shortage of STEM talent in the United States is occurring when technology reinvents itself every few years. Our country’s economic competitiveness and prosperity depend on innovative STEM- educated young people that work together to solve our problems effectively and creatively.

Proposed herein is a strategy to weave STEM throughout the secondary curricula to engage and excite students. The strategy introduces engineering concepts into the curricula beginning at the middle school level. Then, in high schools, math and science teachers would be cross-trained in engineering and technology content so that they can inform and encourage their “mainstream” students of the benefits in pursuing these fields of study; in addition, these teachers would incorporate an activities-based, project-based and problem-based learning approach to engage and to stimulate student interest in the strategies used in engineering and technology. The model for this action is the Project Lead The Way® pre-engineering courseware. At the college level, the collaborative approach to learning and to problem-solving would be offered in summer camps which would encourage interaction between university and high school STEM faculty. For this approach to work, STEM must be embraced by all disciplines as not a single, stand-alone entity, but as an integral building block to a successful career for the student.

Brower, T., & Grimsley, R., & Newberry, P. (2007, June), Stem Is Not Just A Four Individually Lettered Word Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1975

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