Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Promoting STEM to Young Students by Renewable Energy Applications

Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Promoting STEM to Young Students by Renewable Energy Applications

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Math-Science-Engineering Technology in Iowa on Applied Renewable Energy Areas (MSETI - AREA) projects are aimed at providing area school teachers with an applied mathematics and science curriculum package based on photovoltaic (PV) power, wind power, human power, and hydrogen fuel-cell fundamentals. The MSETI - AREA project has established a partnership between the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and selected area high schools and middle schools for the improvement of students' mathematical and scientific skill sets. Through this project, students improve their technological literacy by creating an environment in which they understand and figure out relationships among basic mathematics, science, and engineering technology that are applied to renewable energy fields. In order to mentor and manage the learning environment effectively, students are given a professional skill set for successfully applying mathematics and science to technical projects with diverse teams throughout their careers. The use of a number of renewable energy and energy efficiency based hands-on projects is also used to promote mathematics and science for middle school teachers and students.

Introduction

The USA has failed to capture youth's interest in scientific and mathematical ideas. As John Glenn (2000) announced, worst of all, we are not challenging their imaginations deeply enough. According to the National Science Board's (NSB) Science and Engineering Indicators, enrollment in undergraduate engineering and science programs in the United States has declined since the 1980s (Glenn Commission, 2000). Clearly, there is a continued need for increased enrollment and retention in the fields of science and engineering. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) have become increasingly central to economic competitiveness and growth in the United States.

Recently, the NSB presented an action plan to address pressing issues in US STEM education (National Action Plan, 2007). In this action plan, the Board identified priority actions that should be taken by all stakeholders who are working together cooperatively to achieve measurable improvements in the Nation's STEM education system. The Board concluded that the Nation is failing to meet the STEM education needs of US students, which has serious implications for a scientific and engineering workforce in the 21st century. The Board believed that addressing this issue is absolutely essential for the continued economic success of the United States and its national security. According to the Board report, all American citizens must have the basic scientific, technological, and mathematical knowledge to make informed personal choices, to be educated voters, and to thrive in the increasingly technological global marketplace. As a final action, the NSB recommended actions that ensure students are taught by well-prepared and highly effective STEM teachers. These recommendations include strategies for increasing the number of such teachers and improving the quality of their preparation by (a) developing strategies for compensating STEM teachers at market rates, (b) providing resources for the preparation of future STEM teachers, (c) increasing STEM teacher mobility between districts by creating national STEM teacher certification standards, and (d) preparing STEM teachers to teach STEM content effectively (National Action Plan, 2007).

Due to the clear need for the engineering and science workforce in the near future, considerable numbers of educators at colleges have taken on creative recruitment and promoting activities to help increase student enrollment in STEM fields. Recruitment efforts for engineering and science fields are definitely not restricted to the near past. Bozynski and Mc- Cowen (1995) describe a student initiated summer recruitment camp for engineering called Science Quest aimed at elementary school children in Kingston, Canada, through Queen's College, which started in 1988. …

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