The US Office of Naval Research has taken a keen interest in STEM education over recent years, though its efforts have been somewhat under the radar as compared to the higher profile DARPA projects commonly cited in the media. Either way, it showcases the importance of 21st century skills as they relate to national security today and for the foreseeable future, and the ONR has now made available a tool to help connect classrooms to Science and Technology information in a different way than the typical Google search. Its an iPad app called Gooru, and it appears to be worthy of adding to a teacher’s arsenal (sorry) of teaching tools. The Gooru app was formed as a result of a collaboration using Navy’s experience in STEM initiatives and the Goorulearning search engine. A large list of corporate support is displayed on the site, and funds are evident by the ease of use and utility of the app.
So what can it do for you and your students? Gooru ”curates, auto-tags and contextualizes millions of STEM related web resources to get the most out of searches. It ranks and suggests items for students and teachers based on usage data, user input, search query logs and social signals” according to the ONR website. So while it is billed as a search engine, it is much more. Gooru makes STEM video resources available within easy reach of teachers and students in a logically organized fashion. It eliminates lots of search time for relevant multimedia, and keeps it handy for future reference. Gooru users can upload their own videos to help out the community of teachers or for the use of their own students. And, common core standards are linked to much of the material to make this essential piece of the educational puzzle more palatable to every teacher. Finally, teachers looking to Flip their classrooms have one less excuse not to make this positive step.
As a source of material for students, Gooru excels. Its collections help students keep track of what they have seen, and includes digital texts, games, quizzes and study guides. For students who are used to learning online Gooru is a fun, engaging way to get what they need to be prepared for class on their own time,, with few distractions that might take them off track.
Gooru has combined a many of the best features of several different applications and classroom tools into one service, easily accessible and free. Like all teachers,you are looking for a ways to save time and make your instructional time more efficient, and Gooru is a good star for the new year.
If you are reading this, you are well aware of the frightening gap between the availability of STEM related jobs and STEM qualified applicants. The reasons for this quagmire and the various proposed solutions have been posted on this site to serve as an alert and call to action for concrete intervention before the United States loses its culture of innovation and technological leadership in the world.
The White House has been aware of the risks caused by this shortage in the STEM workforce to long term national security and the outlook for employment, and since these are for the most part bipartisan issues, a comprehensive STEM policy has been gaining traction over at the beltway. The latest development is the formal designation as a CAP (Cross Agency Policy) goal to raise the number of students who achieve degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics by one million over the next decade. This number and notion has been proposed as a goal for some time, but the difference now is the CAP designation. What that means is the various government agencies that have a stake in this goal will be tasked to “focus cross-agency coordination and encourage sharing of best practices among agencies with complementary missions.”
So instead of having government and private entities duplicating each others efforts and needlessly squandering precious resources, there will be a more collaborative environment that encourages the sharing and coordination of best practices and investments in programs. This policy is based on the recommendation of the PCAST (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) “Engage To Excel” report last year, and it bodes well for more efficiency in STEM recruitment efforts. At least on paper.
Whether or not the slow wheels of government can not only coordinate among themselves, let alone with the significant efforts put forth by private industry and academia to get STEM in the minds of students is another thing entirely. There are many questions unanswered, and a major flaw that remains to be addressed
These and similar policies generated and then handed down, often with new mandates and educational standards, are still created by those who either lack direct experience teaching or have not been in a classroom for many years. And yet the implementation of the policies is entirely teacher driven. No one knows better what will work in the classroom better than those who deliver the policy messages to students in an engaging, relevant way that encourages kids to want STEM subjects to be a part of their daily lives. But the top down approach is out of touch with what happens within the walls of the school. Handing down mandates for STEM curriculum and a call for better test scores are all fine and good, but the gap remains: When are they going to ask teachers, real teachers, how policies can be turned to practice?
Many of today’s STEM education classes have robotics competition teams as teachers capitalize on the high level of learning offered in the various levels FIRST Robotics competitions. The First Tech Challenge, a mid level competition that is extremely popular due to its affordability and entertaining challenges, has altered its rules to allow team members to fabricate their own parts rather than be restricted to those purchased from LEGO. This is an opportunity not to be missed, as it gives teams more flexibility in potential design options and can save some money as well. In this lesson we will use SprutCAM to generate machine code from a motor mount design that fits a standard FTC 12volt DC motor. Be sure and take a look at our other SprutCAM STEM lessons and videos to get a background on the basics of this powerful, easy to use software available free to educators.
Begin by importing the motor mount in a format recognized by SprutCAM. In this case we will be using the .IGS format.
Next, drag select the model and sew the faces together.
Locate the Z on the top of the part by using the transform tool. This orientation is just for drilling the mounting bolts.
We will use a pecking operation to help clear the chips developed by the drill. Since these will be through holes with no tapping, we will drill standard through holes.
Now we will relocate the Z using the transform tool for the remainder of the machining operations.
Next, add a box around the part based on the material stock dimensions you plan to use. In this case, our part will be .5 inches thick, and our stock is .75in high. You will need to account for this extra material in your machining parameters, and adding an accurately sized box around the part will help you avoid this common mistake.
Now that the axes are where you want them and you have defined your stock, we can begin machining. It is important for students to logically consider the order of machining operations here, and strive for efficiency in terms of minimal tool changes, material waste, and fixturing time.
The first operation involves removing extra stock, so we will use a finishing plane operation. Select the top face of the motor mount. Pay careful attention to the Z settings in parameters. You can use the illustration for a guide, but the amount of extra stock on your part dictates your final settings. We are using a .5 inch endmill to knock off the stock.
Next we will remove the material inside the motor mount hole. We’ll use a pocketing operation and a .25 inch endmill. A larger endmill would do the job quicker. I generally require my students to leave a thousandth of stock on the bottom for safety and accuracy. This small amount of remaining metal will be enough to keep it from shifting and/or flying off into the sunset.
We are going to mill the outline of the part next. A 2D contour will be used. Simply selecting the edges using the SprutCAM edge tool makes it easy.This order of operations is particularly important because it will allow us to safely cut the slot without having the tension caused by splitting the part cause a shift in position. Review the parameters shown below with students to verify they understand why we have left some stock, and the reason we took 6 passes with the .25 inch endmill to contour the part. (In case you are not sure, the inside fillets around the arc of the motor mount are too small to accommodate a larger endmill).
Finally, we will cut out the slot that permits the motor mount tension to be adjusted. We will mill out a pocket using a .125 in endmill. Select the upper edges that define the slot. Even with a thousandth left on the bottom, the release in tension can cause the part to shift a bit when machining, which is why we do this operation last.
The motor mount is now ready to be machined after post processing. Your students can use this design as a template for their own motors, as there are plenty of variations on this theme. You will find it very educational and cost efficient to build custom motor mounts for all kinds of projects in your STEM classroom, and using the modern tools available today, students will gain market ready skills in short order.
We’ve previously written about how encouraging more STEM majors can be accomplished using financial incentives that offset the high cost of tuition for majors in critically short STEM areas. Texas Governor Rick Perry’s plan broke the 10k degree barrier a short time ago. While not proposing a completely free college education as posted here, Governor Rick Scott state of Florida has made no bones about the need for more workers in technology, health care and engineering-and he is willing to help pay to make it happen. According to this article, Governor Scott wants 28 of the state’s colleges (not universities) to offer degrees in these key shortage areas at a discount, rounding out to-that’s right, $10,000. This may be an upward trend if proven successful, and it is going to take a combination of this sort of financial incentive at the post secondary level as well as K-12 instruction to create a perfect storm of interest in STEM careers if the US is going to close the expanding gap between STEM job supply and demand.
In case you haven’t noticed, flipping the classroom has become quite the catchphrase lately. Simply put, it means that much of teacher centered content delivery (nee lectures) is taken out of the class and uploaded into cyberspace, where students can access lectures and demonstrations on their own time, then come prepared to class to participate in powerful, engaging activities that apply what they learned from the teacher at home on their device of choice.
Districts who transition to this model can realize improvements with test scores, higher levels of engagement, and lower failure rates. Teachers who have hidden behind their desks pushing paper and pencils will no longer be able to be curmudgeonly and pretend that technology is going away. In fact resistant teachers will have to adapt or be unable to perform their duties. The day for closing the door and teaching the same way for a 30 year career has finally come to an end.
Flipping is a way for traditional schools to contain the online lecture model and make themselves essential to children’s education rather than obsolete in the face of technology, providing the benefits of an online education in terms of its flexibility and the power of having a teacher provide guidance and facilitate higher level learning in a hands on, collaborative learning environment.
Much of the focus for flipping has been in the core content areas of language arts, math and science, and justifiably so. But it is equally important for STEM/STEAM courses that require hands on learning. In spite of the benefits, there is precious little material to be found on providing this same strategies to teachers who work with arts, engineering, manufacturing, and vocational courses. Class setup and cleanup times squeeze time enough, let alone the need for instructional time in technique and safety on a regular basis. Flipping is an ideal way to capitalize on limited class time by delivering this ‘dry’ content to students online so they can be ready to work as soon as class starts. If a student is absent or misses the opportunity to review the content at home, they can still access it independently so you don’t have to continually reteach.
Imagine how it is in a digital manufacturing class where the topic is on how to square a vise to a CNC mill table. The teacher might deliver an introduction, theory, tools involved, and some math as lecture and notes. Two days gone. How many students were actually listening? How many of those listening will remember what they heard? And how many will be ready to square up a vise in the shop when they get there?
Instead, the flipped classroom will provide this content online, for review and reteaching as often as necessary. Students who are need review won’t need to be retaught, the lectures are always available. Flipping makes the best possible use of the instructor, as a guide and facilitator rather than one way director. Students who may not have understood something in the online content will come to class with specific questions, or can comment directly on the content site and ask for clarification. Imagine as a teacher coming to class where the students actually have questions based on the homework! Those two days burned on lecture are gained back as students are engaged in application of what they learned at their own pace using technology they are comfortable with. Each classroom moment becomes productive time that requires engagement and collaboration, and students who used to relax and daydream or worse during class no longer have that option.
The logistics of flipping the classroom really come down to how aggressively you want to make the conversion. Most importantly, be sure you have the backing of your school administrator before proceeding. You don’t want unintentionally violate a school board policy, as unlikely as that may be. A potential upside of this is that educating your principal on the benefits of flipping and your willingness to lead the charge may be seen as an opportunity for integrating flipping into your school improvement plan. It is possible that if you and a few others are willing to pilot flipping, it may be adopted building wide.
Budget wise, flipping the classroom is not free. It is not free in time, money or effort.
Some districts are using textbook adoption funds to purchase the technology needed flip classes, as the need for textbooks to take home and read fades away. A BYOD (bring your own device) policy is one way to avoid providing tablets or laptops to every student, but your district will at a minimum need broadband and wifi access as a minimum. Beyond that, there are time constraints. Teachers who are presented with the flipping concept are very concerned about the time needed to produce the videos themselves. They are worried about having to finally having to learn to use technology (yes there are a few diehard luddites still out there in education) to reach their students. Teachers are also concerned that they will have to provide engaging activities that require guidance and facilitation, rather than dictation and notetaking.
With adequate professional development and training, these minor obstacles to flipping can be overcome. Teachers can choose from Khan Academy offerings to buoy up their own internet lectures and ease the transition. Support from the school board, administration, teacher leaders and parents can provide opportunities to alter schedules, provide prep time, reduce course loads, or other options to make the benefits outweigh the costs. Like every other change in education, it takes time, effort and most of all a vision to make it happen. Flipping the classroom may be the tie that binds together new standards, professional learning communities, common core and content delivery. It is worth a serious look.
Some helpful links to get you started on flipping the classroom.
The DuPont Challenge science essay contest presents an opportunity for STEM teachers to engage students in an English/Language Arts project. STEM teachers are aware that the Common Core State Standards demand writing across the curriculum, but it can be difficult to create meaningful experiences for students in this area without seeming contrived. Asking students to express themselves in written form, i.e., ’ I’m going to ask you to write an essay,’ results in groans from the classroom. A contest, however, particularly one that is so broad ranging should give students and entirely different level of motivation.
Student essay are to be between 700 and 1000 words, and are to be in any one of four categories:
Together, we can feed the world.
Together, we can build a secure energy future.
Together, we can protect people and the environment.
Together, we can be innovative anywhere.
The last option is of particular interest because it is specifically designed to be a broad ranging STEM category. This rounds out the essay requirements to include students who may not be involved in coursework (or lack interest in) issues covered by first three choices, which focus mainly on sustainability and environmental science issues. This means students in any and all science courses can be included in the contest because it permits essay subjects relevant to any area, from biology and marine science to robotics and engineering. One hint for success: purusing the FAQ reveals that essays are encouraged to be about improvements and positive changes to the world, rather than simply informative.
DuPont give students some resources to start with, with links to helpful videos found here. These should be mandatory research in your classroom to avoid ‘cut and paste’ syndrome we find so often. Student work on an assignment such as this HAS to be original, and every teacher struggles with students who paraphrase the work of others and genuinely believe that makes it their own work. Watching videos without looking at a Wiki can be helpful in this regard, if you follow up with an activity that summarizes what was learned.
Integrating the common core into your STEM classroom just became a bit easier. An essay entry should provide a quality students writing sample as well as meet some of the CCSS as well. So if you have struggled with the added responsibility of writing across the curriculum in your STEM program, fear not: the DuPont Challenge just made it easier, engaging and relevant.
Earlier this year, ManpowerGroup’s annual survey on the top ten hardest jobs to fill for 2012 was released. Nearly all of these jobs have STEM connections at their core, and looking at the list makes it clear that recent graduates as well as adults in the job market are not meetings the needs of employers. This is not particularly earth shaking news, as the increasing gap between job skills and available positions has been a key point in making educational policy for government and private industry for some time, and creates an unfortunate divergence between unemployment rates and employability.
At TeachSTEMNow we are constantly looking at things list from a teacher-centered, pragmatic perspective. How do news bites and statistics translate into what actually happens in America’s classrooms? A fresh look at the top 10 list begs the question: which course offerings and curricula can focus on delivering students these skills and maintain their level of interest long enough to pursue post graduate training in STEM?
First, a look at the list. The top ten hardest jobs to fill in the US were:
5.Accounting and Finance Staff
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are the foundations of STEM education, and let’s see where they fit into these careers. Bear in mind that these are extremely broad ranging subject areas, and by the same token the jobs listed can be quite diverse as well. What that means in education is that generalized, high level STEM skills in a variety of areas are much more valuable because of the options they provide to students so they can pursue any one of these jobs. This is contrary to a position taken by some teachers, who have the impression that turning high school students into physicists, or machinists, or mathematicians is what they should be doing. Quite the contrary. Students should have a wide repertoire of skills that can be applied in a multitude of areas by the time they graduate in each of the various STEM disciplines. This is supported by the ManPowerGroup survery indicating that more employers prefer to have new hirees with ‘soft skills’ that demonstrate they have the ability to be trained on site to meet the specific needs of the employer.
There are some key fundamentals that must be woven throughout student’s lives that prepare them for this job market. They will give students the skills they need no matter which career they pursue, and can transfer freely from one job to another.
They must be able to read and comprehend written material.
They must be able to express themselves clearly in both written and verbal form.
They must be able to apply mathematics to real world situations.
They must be able to interpret data and see trends to make predictions of future actions they take .
They must be able to find innovative solutions to problems using material and collaborators as resources.
They must be able to deal with criticism and mistakes and take immediate steps to correct them.
They must have the ability to both lead and follow others in a collaborative environment.
They must be highly skilled in using technology to gather information quickly and increase their productivity.
Look at the Next Generation Science standards, Common Core State Standards, and Proficiency based assessment models. These and other paradigms will drive the curriculum in your district for the foreseeable future. Do your fellow STEM teachers feel they need to turn out junior physicists, machinists, or mathematicians? They don’t. It is hard for ‘content driven’ teachers to realize the folly they are engaged in because often they personalize their graduate level expertise and feel it should be reflected in students. This should not be the driving force when delivering material to students. Instead is should be Outcome-Driven educational practice, with curriculum infused with projects that use specific content to generate experiences for students that give them a combination of soft and hard skills they can take to a job interview, a college application or a small business loan officer.
What about a specific list of courses that translate directly to the top 10 most difficult jobs to fill? At the risk of redundancy it is important to emphasize again that the experiences you create in a wide swath of high quality STEM education courses is what will get your students the skills to qualify for these jobs, not a single specific type of course. Is your curriculum providing cross cutting concepts that integrate from one class to another, and one semester to the next? Do students come out of your classes with enthusiasm and confidence in their abilities? It doesn’t matter as much as one might think that a student in your physics course might need to be prepared to be a machinist, nurse or accountant. It doesn’t matter that in your math class a student may end up as an IT guy. It doesn’t matter that in your shop class a student wants to become an engineer. Your school can and should make everyone in these courses equally capable of moving to the next step in their career after graduating from high school-whether it be an internship, trade school, college or career.
Immerse them in STEM. Close the gap. The students will take care of the rest.
Many of the projects with your STEM students will involve mechanical motion of some kind. And whether its a project ranging from a mousetrap car to wind powered generator, from a Rube Goldberg machine to a giant 120 pound FIRST Robotics Challenge robot, engineering a mechanism will require some combination of connections between motors and driveshafts, wheels or axles.
One obstacle commonly encountered by teachers and students is once they have amassed a collection of dc motors from various sources, is how to connect these devices to transfer motion of the motor to the object that needs to be moved. It might be a wheel, pulley, gear or shaft. When prompted, students who have little experience with mechanical devices will often be stumped. They may even suggest things like rubber bands, tape or glue. It’s not their fault of course, these sorts of challenges are not in the realm of their experience. Yet.
The solution to the connection problem is a common device called a coupler, and there are many different types. Each has a specific purpose, and can be purchased or manufactured. In an earlier STEM activity, we looked at manufacturing an axle-to-wheel coupler (or hub) with the help of SprutCAM machining software. In this lesson, we will again use SprutCAM to create a type of connector specifically designed to compensate for misalignment of parts, called the oldham coupler. Misalignment is a very common condition with any project, as it is very difficult to align shafts in exactly the same plane when taking into account spacing issues, bolt hole alignment errors and so on. Connecting together parts that are out of alignment and rotating them at speed can create serious vibration issues that effect performance and reliability of projects. See the clip below to see this compensation in action:
Oldham couplers are made of three pieces. We typically use a combination of the CNC mill and 3D printer to make them in my classes. The center section is typically a nonmetal material such as hard rubber or plastic. My students make this part with the 3D printer for even heavier duty applications, and this is recommended as ABS plastic has proven itself a quite robust. If you are printing in PLA, you will have to try it and let us know how it works out. If you do not have access to a CNC mill, you can manufacture the entire coupler in plastic on the 3D printer for very light duty situations, but take extra care and print with very high infill.
Design software options are many, but chances are you already use one if you have the machinery required to do this activity. Design packages can range from free open source examples such as FreeCAD and OpenSCAD to reasonably priced higher end products like Alibre and IronCAD.
Students can design couplers to fit any type of shaft diameter. We generally use set screws to keep the couplers in place. If the shaft you are mating with the coupler does not have a flat edge for the set screw, you should grind it down a bit so the set screw can get a good bite on it to prevent rotation. Oldham style couplers can be made in a variety of ways, but we try to keep things simple and use designs such as this:
Two of these will form the outer sections of the coupler. Note that the diameters of the shafts can be different, so you can connect a 6mm shaft to a .375 inch shaft without any problem by extrude cutting the appropriately sized hole. Also note that there is a hole for a set screw that will retain the coupler on its respective shaft. If you haven’t already, it is recommended that you purchase variety pack of set screws so your students can have greatest possible flexibility in their project.
The center section in this particular design looks like this. It will be manufactured out of ABS plastic on the 3D printer. Note that the sliders are positioned perpendicular to one another.
Remember that plastic does have a tendency to ooze a bit, and you will need to compensate for that in your slider dimensions. You will want to print with external support for best results.
The completed part looks like this.
The set screws are clearly visible here, don’t forget them!
Now that the designs are complete, it is time to manufacture them. Exporting a .stl file to your 3D printer will be enough, since they use an integrated machine Gcode generator and machine controller such as Replicat or Marlin for example.
The metal outer portion of the Oldham coupler will be made on the CNC mill, and we will use SprutCAM software to generate the machine code. We have several tutorials on using SprutCAM on the site, including STEM lessons and videos. Take advantage of them, if this is your first encounter with SprutCAM. Tutorial links are at the bottom of this page.
We import the part as an .igs file, and create some stock around it. Next we orient the axes in the proper orientation for our operations.
Next we will drill the hole for our shaft. We will use a standard drilling operation here. Be sure and compensate for the height of the stock above the part. If you are coupling two different shaft sizes, don’t forget the import both models and run them separately.
Our next operation will be a pocket for the center slider. Select the edges that need to be milled out, then choose the correct depth in your parameters.
A 2D contour finishing operation will cut the part out of the stock. To prevent the part from shifting during this operation, students can use tabs or leave a thousandths then knock it out. Trim the excess with snips or a deburring tool.
At this point my students will flip the part over and put the part in the drill press or drill on the CNC for the set screw. Tapping is manual as well, again since this is just a single threaded hole.
That’s it. The oldham coupler is one of many versatile devices that students can create in your STEM classroom that provides not only skills in design and manufacturing, but a better understanding of the different options they have when challenged to make complex devices with what is available to them at minimal cost.
Computer Science Education Week begins December 5th 2012. Get ready now! Does your school have a viable CS program? It should-and keyboarding or Excel classes are not what we are talking about here. Teaching computer science is easier than ever thanks to some great open source coursework and easy to use programming applications that even come with complete tutorials. CS Week is a call to action to make real Computer Science Education available to all students. A high quality CS curriculum will align with the Common Core as well as Next Gen science standards. Computer Science courses give student 21st century skills that help them prepare for today’s STEM intensive job market. Only 52 percent of these high paying jobs are being filled, with 1.4 Million(!) job openings predicted by 2018. Look for local events near you, or check them out online. Better yet, have an open house at your school to host the community and showcase some of your students physical computing (ie robotics, arduino, raspberry pi) projects. Have them show off the apps they are creating. Make Computer Science Education Week a regular part of your districts calendar of events by inviting board members and the superintendent to your open house, and prepare to watch their amazement as what your students can do!
An insightful article at USNews provides a well founded argument to provide what most teachers are conditioned to keep hidden from students: acknowledging failure when attempting a task. The idea of keeping students from failing has been an unfortunate part of the educational landscape for many years, probably starting some time in the 1970s and taking root in the politically correct early 1990′s. As teachers began to evolve from deliverers of instruction to caregivers for students who did not come from a background that placed a value on education, or lacked basic needs such a food and shelter, something became apparent: students were easily distracted when basics needs were not met at home, and became disillusioned with school when their distractions led to poor school performance. Consequently self esteem of students was given highest priority, and teachers began to learn in their college courses that any feedback to a student that might be construed as negative, whether it was a red mark on an homework paper or a firm ‘No” in the classroom, would be expressly forbidden. Soon middle school students could no longer be held back without an act of congress, and thousands of children who could not read at grade level, or write a simple paragraph, were moved on en masse to high school without having basic skills that would allow them to learn there.
If you are middle school teacher, you have seen this play out for years, and it possibly still does at your school. In the high school environment there is somewhat less of a tendency to artificially boost the self esteem of students for a variety of reasons, but it is still very much there-and more so for students on Individual Education Plans.
Here’s the thing: Everyone knowingly turns a blind eye to this quandary we have placed ourselves and our students in, just for the short term gains of ‘self esteem’. Yes, students may feel better about school if they can’t fail at anything, but they’re not stupid-they know exactly what is going on. They also know that they are getting away with passing grades for what should be rigorous courses without really learning the coursework.
Formalized state testing has become a significant part of the educational framework in the past few years, and theoretically that should make those accountable for the ‘no fail’ policies at schools, well, accountable for them. And students are not passing these tests, in droves. Math and ELA scores typically run at 50 percent passing benchmarks or less.
So as educators we are faced with the daunting prospect of being held accountable for pedagogical policies that discourage students themselves from being accountable because it may harm their self esteem. Yet these same policies are partly responsible for the low passing rates on the test scores designed to measure student achievement.
It gets worse.
The real question is, how do you know if you are doing something right, if you can’t ever do it wrong? If the educational system is indeed going to prepare students for STEM and other careers, when will it admit that people CAN fail? And that people fail all the time? And there are consequences for failure? Are today’s students being prepared for what it is like in the real world, where failure can lead you from anywhere to losing a job to discovering a new invention? Clearly the answer is no, in capitals. Students are not being taught a healthy approach to failure in today’s classrooms, because they rarely fail. Chemistry labs are prepackaged modules with perfectly laid out instructions and pre measured chemicals for a reaction that always comes out the same way. Math manipulatives are set out so students always get the right combination. Biology and physics labs merely demonstrate known processes and confirm established theories.
That’s not how life really is, and that is not how any STEM career will ever be. Students who are challenged to be willing to fail because it can lead to success are being prepared for reality. Students who are taught that they are not failures when they fail, and can take ownership of that concept are being prepared. Students who understand that pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, and losing the fear of failure will actually BOOST their self esteem when they finally overcome previous failed attempts are those who are developing job market skills in today’s world. It takes more time, and more effort to let kids see both sides of the equation. The Next Generation Science standards are working to address that with a strong emphasis on true scientific inquiry and practice, along with a major push for engineering at every level.
Consider the self esteem of a student who has recently graduated high school and enters college or the job market. Are she going to be willing to push herself to the point of failure on the job, trying new ideas and making sacrifices, or does she stay well within her comfort zone for fear of failure? How will she feel, and more importantly, how has she learned to react, the first time she makes a mistake that has serious consequences? Will she be driven to innovate or stagnate? Has education done its part by sheltering he from failure or let her down with no reality check? The answer is clear: keeping failure from students is no longer an option we can afford. Curriculum must incorporate activities with unknown solutions, requiring innovative ways to solve problems that may very well end in failure, but will lead to the promise of success in the long run. And that is what matters more than ever.