16 February 2012
Posted in Our STEM Crisis
Dr. Ioannis N. Miaoulis, President and Director of the Museum of Science, Boston visited the Orlando Science Center this week to speak to a select crowd of educators, community leaders, science center staff and trustees. and other VIP's about his efforts to impact Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in America.
When Dr. Miaoulis first arrived in the U.S. from Greece, he was surprised at the level of confusion from American students about what Engineering actually is. He saw the term engineering used in many contexts from train drivers, to anything that needs fixing, even as a label on janitorial closets.
He noticed that the science taught in our schools was primarily focused on natural science, ignoring the aspects of our world that is human made. He felt that the US had reached a point where there was great attention paid to how many legs grasshoppers have rather than explaining how the items like buildings, cars and roads came to be.
The answer to this query became his life calling and Dr. Miaoulis began to lead the charge in Massachusetts to introduce engineering into the school curriculum and ultimately impact STEM focus on national educational standards.
Why is STEM focus important in formal education? He offered five simple reasons.
- 98% of the world around you is a result of technology and engineering
- Engineering creates project based learning and problem solving
- Engineering makes math and science relevant
- There is a serious lack of US workforce for engineering and technology fields.
- Reliance on digital technology has crippled the 3D visualization skills of US children
Recognizing that a 21st century curriculum must include the human-made world, he led efforts with the Museum’s Board of Trustees and Overseers to create the National Center for Technological Literacy (NCTL) in 2004. The mission of the NCTL is to enhance knowledge of engineering and technology for people young and old as well as inspire the next generation of engineers, inventors and scientists.
The NCTL advances technological literacy in schools by helping states modify educational standards and assessments by designing K-12 engineering materials and by offering educators professional development. Their curricula have reached over 35,500 teachers and close to 3 million students in all 50 states. In 2010 the NCTL won the Smaller Business Association of New England Innovation Award.
They hope to further the message of the importance of STEM education to key states such as Florida and California who have the two highest percentages of science and technology careers in the nation. He ultimately hopes to partner with institutions like the Orlando Science Center, where much has been done to provide STEM opportunities to local schools, to help cultivate and spread the message of STEM education.
The Orlando Science Center works with schools and other organizations to provide support for engaging youth in STEM topics. Our hope is that Dr. Miaoulis’s message inspires our audience of educators and community leaders to impact issues surrounding STEM education in our communit