My View: Technology and Engineering, the Forgotten Part of STEM Education

By Walton, Matt | St. Joseph News-Press, February 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

My View: Technology and Engineering, the Forgotten Part of STEM Education


Walton, Matt, St. Joseph News-Press


(CNN) -- Editor's note: Matt Walton a technology and engineering education teacher at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, Virginia. He has a master's degree in education and a bachelor of science degree in technology education from North Carolina State University.

You might have noticed a recent TV commercial from Chevron Corp. showing a Chevron professional next to an eighth-grade student with a robot. The student describes the remote control robot, and the young Chevron professional talks about how a high school science teacher made him what he is today (a geologist for Chevron). The next part of the commercial caught my attention, because in bold letters the words "Science Rules" flashed on the screen. While I agree that "science rules," so does technology and engineering.

What the ad is demonstrating is not science education, but rather the middle two letters of STEM - or science, technology, engineering and math - education. Often technology and engineering education is overlooked when people talk about STEM education or when governments make decisions about education policy.

In last year's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for adding "100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math." This call for new teachers was laudable, however, science and math education receive the majority of attention and support from universities, various levels of government and the public.

One reason is because math and science are required classes throughout a student's educational career, unlike technology and engineering. Additionally, as you examine the landscape of colleges and universities around the country, it's easy to find a school where you can study to become a science or math teacher. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for technology and engineering education as many colleges and universities have cut their programs, and sadly so have some high and middle schools.

Technology and engineering education is exhibited in many different ways when you look at that robot in the commercial. The physical appearance of the robot incorporates one of the main cornerstones of technology and engineering education: design.

Design in technology and engineering education can come in various forms. One is digital design through digital photography and Photoshop to generate a treatment and produce a video. Another aspect covered in technology education classes focuses on engineering design by creating a more efficient shopping cart or a new blade design for a wind turbine. …

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