I was named to Governor Brandstad's STEM Advisory Council for the North Central Region. I applied on a whim, really. I'd gotten an email from the IASL encouraging school librarians to apply, so I did. I said that as a K-12 teacher librarian, I have the opportunity to work with all students and staff in a district. I talked about the grant that I helped spearhead with which we are this year studying the Manson Impact Crater using GIS technology. (Helped is the operative word. I was in wayyyyy over my head!) But most importantly, I said that I'm a mother of five children, from 8th grade to a senior in college, and I know the importance of challenging our children academically in school.
The part I didn't say was that I thought I had something to add because I'm not a scientist. I barely based Advanced Biology in high school, I shouldn't have passed Astronomy in college. (I dropped it because I was getting 50% on the tests and still passing with a C - the Bell Curve - and I said to myself, "That ain't right." Not an English major either!) I took Astronomy again years later with one of my children who needed challenge. The dean had to approve her taking it since she was in 8th grade, and she told me, "Now, you know, your daughter has to do her own work." HA HA HA. As if B. was the one she needed to worry about!!! (Okay, okay. I did my own work, but got some liberal tutoring from my 13 year old daughter.)
I have a degree in Elementary Education, and one of my endorsements is in TAG. In my ed classes, I often heard this sentiment: "I'll have the gifted kids help those who struggle in the subject." At first, I tried to be nice, but eventually, all my classmates hated me for saying over and over again: It's not their job to teach. What are you doing to challenge the gifted kids???
Which brings me back to STEM. What are we doing to challenge our brightest kids in science, in technology, in engineering, in math - especially in our rural schools? I don't think we're doing enough. We do have to encourage all students in STEM, but I believe, most importantly, appropriate challenge for our best and brightest.
So at our meeting today, we heard about some great opportunities that our regional council will be funding. There was a bit of confusion (deadlines for applications is Friday - as in the day after tomorrow), but even so, this is a great opportunity for Iowa students. One fellow council member questioned how are we going to help all students - I mean, this is great, she said, but we're still not helping very many students. She's right. But I do think it's a great start.
What are you doing to challenge our rural students in STEM? you may ask. Well, I did help with our successful grant as I said before. I am the site coordinator for two students taking AP Chemistry, a first for our school. And at the elementary, I'm starting a Technology Club, with our first meeting on Friday. I don't know yet what we'll do, but I know where to turn for some ideas!