My last high school I managed had over 65% of its graduates going to science or engineering as their major declared for their first year of college. Those science/engineering majors included doctors, veterinarians, nurses and engineers.
The Association of Christian Schools and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix have these four criteria for a STEM school program.
Focus on World Issues and Problems
Guided by Engineering Process
Applies Rigorous Science and math principles
Utilizes hands-on inquiry-bases and open ended explorations
We were very successful in our approach to a STEM education because we had a different criteria.
Provide a clear understanding of Christ and the Bible
Develop excellent math, reading and writing skills in all students
All students are provided a rigorous science curriculum built on a hands-on inquiry model including sections using the Engineering Process
Focus on solving local problems
Involve parents in education
The first criteria provides a context for the other criteria to work in. My prayer is all students will have their eyes opened to Christ as Lord and Saviour. But for those who are not of faith, my hope is until that hoped for time, those students will see the world from a different view than what is presented by the world.
The students I mentioned in the last high school I managed, 67% exceeded all three areas of the state test in Arizona. And all but two of the rest of the graduates exceeded in at least one state test. By state standards, our students are strong in academics.
I would say it is very difficult to do well in STEM education if you have trouble in math, reading and writing. So, in one sense, it is a waste of time teaching STEM skills if you are not providing skills at a level at least at state standards for all students in K-12 education in reading, writing and math.
We use LEGO engineering sets along with Science in a Nutshell to provide a structure to our first through sixth grade sciences education. Both provide basic concepts with inquiry learning projects.
I am not sure about why we are solving world problems. We have plenty to solve right here in the city of Maricopa. And if we want to go in search of more problems, Pinal County and Arizona have a seemingly endless list .
How do we begin to solve local problems? Getting to know people. Our 1-6 grade students volunteer at the local food bank, Hope Women's Center and whatever else we can find. Problems are solved one person at a time.
Finally, parents are invited to meet with their child's teacher everyday for a mini conference on how their child did, but at least twice a semester is required. Field trips and service trips need parents for support. As the child's best advocate, parents knowing more means advocating more.
And that is the STEM approach at Maricopa Christian Academy.