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System Analysis for STEM

Page 6-2 Brief History

Page 6-2 Brief History of Applying the Complete STEM System to Seminal Education Events The complete STEM System (Figure 6-3) does not appear to have been used during the past century to inform significantly the decision-making process for addressing high school STEM education. Throughout the century, committees developing recommendations for high school STEM courses of year-long courses of biology, chemistry and physics appear to have used the STEM System flow diagram shown as Figure 6-2. At the beginning of the 20 th century, biology was just starting to be recognized as a unifier of a variety of fields such as botany and zoology; identification of cell organelles was still a halfcentury in the future. Chemists were just beginning to recognize the organizing value of the Periodic Table developed about a half-century earlier. Physicists were discovering subatomic particles and had not settled on the general structure of the atom; discovery of the neutron was many years in the future. Industry was working on the assembly line principle of subdividing work to reduce training and improve efficiency; chemical engineering was just starting to be recognized as a field of engineering. Developing a STEM course structure that served for more than a century was a remarkable accomplishment at this time. A look at major events seeking to improve high school STEM education over the past century suggests that some major stakeholders have been ignored consistently. The “Science-Rich” box at the top of Figure 6-3 represents the 70% of STEM-trained personnel that work for industry, the 10% that work for government agencies, and the 10% that work for non-profit organizations and independent research organizations, including the professoriate that has research as its first priority. A review of the personnel engaged in decision-making events shows that very few representatives of the science-rich were engaged in the seminal education events. Modeler observed directly at many education meetings that the one or two representatives of the science-rich community typically were (usually unintentionally) ignored by the expertly articulate educators as science education improvements were designed and implemented.

Page 6-3 Science-rich Industry Government Mission Agencies Post-secondary Research and Support Labs Research Organizations Local Businesses & Services Representatives 0 4-5 2-4 2 of 40 Early 1900s Silos Institutionalized Biology Chemistry Physics Total control by educators Late 1950s & Early 1960s Post-Sputnik Projects 1990s First Science Educ. Stds. Late 2000s & Early 2010s NGSS Today Silos Continued with Biology Chemistry Physics NAS, E & M Add Engineering Figure 6-3

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