July 08, 2015
Educators, parents and business leaders alike are increasingly concerned about the declining performance of U. S. students’ skills in science and technology compared to those of other industrialized nations.
“Awakening Your STEM School,” a new book by Dr. Aaron Smith, makes a compelling case for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program as not only a way to ignite students’ interest in STEM courses, but also as the best approach to workforce development education for America’s high-tech and industrial companies.
Written with Bud Ramey and published by Koehler Publishing, “Awakening Your STEM School” is based on Dr. Smith’s experience as program director of the nation’s second largest “Aviation Academy” (a Newport News, VA magnet school for high school students interested in STEM careers in aviation). The book provides a step-by-step tutorial on the “who, what, why and how” of creating a successful STEM education program, including 44 specific ideas and actions and more than 300 tips for success.
“The United States is losing its place as the world’s leader in science and technology and a big part of the reason is that we’re losing the battle in our classrooms,” Dr. Smith said. “We’re just not inspiring enough of our students to consider careers in STEM fields—particularly minority and female students, according to the 2015 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index.” Overall, statistics show that less than one in five U. S. high school students have an interest in STEM careers.”
“Awakening Your STEM School” is a running narrative on how Dr. Smith and his team of teachers and students developed a long-term vision and goals for the school as well as the specific STEM curricula. “It’s important to note that our students are absolutely a part of the development team at the Aviation Academy,” Dr. Smith said. “We all learn together and that’s a critical element in igniting the students’ passion for learning.”
The importance of close involvement with corporate leaders and local communities is another major theme in the book. Dr. Smith emphasizes the need for educators to truly connect with business and industry to insure that what’s being taught in the classroom provides the skills and knowledge needed in the workplace.
He also cites the proven value of a STEM education program in reducing dropout rates in many schools. “The most often cited reason given by students for dropping out is, frankly, boredom,” he said. “Too often teachers are overwhelmed with many tasks and can’t focus on finding ways to involve and excite their students. Students come into the Aviation Academy and because they can apply what they are learning to real situations, they just blossom.”
The book is already receiving wide praise from employers and educators alike. Among the many comments, Dr. Marsha Sprague, Director of Teacher Preparation at Christopher Newport University said that, “Dr. Smith uses his experiences with real students and their stories to illustrate his ideas about how to make a STEM school work. This book will inspire educators to think ‘outside the box’ about how to really motivate students and parents to engage with a STEM education program.”
“Awakening Your STEM School” is now available on Apple iBook, in eBook and paperback from Barnes & Noble and in eBook through Amazon. The paperback edition is available for pre-order on Amazon now and will be offered for online purchase beginning August 1, 2015. For more information and a preview of the book’s first two chapters, go to http://www.stemschooldr.com