This is an invitation I received recently to take part in a conversation and eventual meeting in Washington, DC with the National Research Council (NRC) Board on Science Education. The NRC is a division of the National Academies of Science. The issue at hand appears to be the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in K-12 education. I imagine some of my research work, along with the work with the UTeach program and my work in the Hoboken School District all contributed to being asked to participate.
In classroom discussions this semester I have tried to talk to students and colleagues about the differences between university life and life in a school district. At the university, this type of invitation is often seen as a positive thing and something that brings honor to the institution. At the school level, things are much more complicated. While a majority of people in the district would feel similarly to the university-- the school district often has an ill informed and politically motivated minority view. In Hoboken, this was embodied by a political group known as "Kids First." People from this group would often criticize and fault me for being out of the district for any imaginable reason-- this was true whether I was giving a lecture at Harvard, a presentation at the National Science Foundation, or visiting another university. I bring this up simply to point out the vile and vitriol that exists sometimes when dealing with district level politics in K-12 schools. -Dr. Petrosino
Dear Dr. Petrosino,
I am writing regarding a new study the NRC Board on Science Education is undertaking in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering to develop a strategic research agenda for determining the approaches and conditions most likely to lead to positive outcomes of integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (iSTEM) education at the K-12 level. I am writing now to invite you to present to the committee at their second meeting on January 10 & 11 in Washington DC.
The focus of the session, which would be on the 10th, is a broad sense of the goals/objectives for integrated STEM. We are thinking this could be both the goals that people engaging in integrated STEM articulate themselves as well as the goals that integrated approaches might be especially effective in supporting. By goals/objectives we mean outcomes for students (achievement, learning, "21st century skills", interest, motivation, persistence in STEM, etc.) rather than the really broad overarching goals such as broadening participating or increasing workforce capacity. Following such an overview, we envision that the presentation would then provide a sketch of the evidence supporting the claims that iSTEM can support these goals/objectives. Or, in the absence of evidence, the kinds of evidence that would be needed. Our notion is the committee would get this broad cut to chew on at this meeting. Then we anticipate digging more deeply into the evidence base on individual goals/objectives at later meetings.
Of course, this is our starting point for thinking about the session. If you are interested and available, I'd like to talk to you in more detail about the session and get your input on what might be possible. Please let me know your availability for a call. If you are not available, I welcome your suggestions for others who might be good for presenting on these kinds of issues.
Thanks so much,
Board on Science Education
The National Research Council