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System Analysis for STEM

System Analysis for

Systems Analysis in Education? Page 6-1 Engineers have long understood the value of subjecting an activity to a systems analysis. One aspect of the systems analysis is developing a flow diagram that recognizes the necessary centers of actions and the flows that connect them. Inherently, there are feedback loops that must exist to ensure the coordination of actions that makes the system succeed. ⇒A STEM System⇐ applies a flow diagram that shows the principal stakeholders and the flow of personnel among the stakeholders. Taking the high school stakeholder as referring to classroom activities that engage all students, the flow diagram for early 21 st century STEM education (Figure 6-1) indicates no effective feedback loop between the science-rich and the high school. (Note that most of the very valuable STEM activities sponsored by the science-rich accommodate a small subset of high school students as described elsewhere.) Failure in a feedback loop or its lack of existence may have catastrophic results. Early in the Industrial Revolution, a New England valley became home to many companies making machine-tools, the foundation devices for mechanical industrial production. For a century, the education community in that valley supplied a continuing source of very trainable new employees to the industry. By coincidence, a severe hiring slowdown and a school improvement program occurred simultaneously over a spread of several years. Lacking the feedback loop to the industry, school personnel decided that their vocational programs and shop courses were no longer needed. Demand for the highly individualized products of the industry returned, but the now purely academic school programs were not developing personnel with skills needed for the industry. Unable to find suitable entry-level employees, many companies moved their operations and employment abroad and the economy of the valley became severely depressed. All young people were leaving the area to find office and business jobs that did not exist in the valley. The negative economic development was reversed only when the necessary feedback loop became re-established when the CEO of one company considering moving offshore decided to find out why they could no longer find the previously available personnel by meeting with a school principal. Soon, appropriate school programs and courses reappeared, students became potential employees, and companies started returning. The economy of the valley recovered.

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