Intel Foundation: Changing Attitudes Is Key in STEM Education

Wendy Hawkins of the Intel Foundation discusses the state of STEM education and what challenges exist.

The Intel Foundation hosts annual science and engineering competitions, such as this one in 2011 when President Barack Obama viewed experiments. Executive Director Wendy Hawkins says it is critical to engage students in STEM education.

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And goodness knows there are plenty of technical jobs that are really hard to fill at that community college level as well. I think that we as a country have neglected those kinds of careers. Shop classes don't exist anymore. The kinds of hands-on teaching and the ability to even learn what those careers might be, or what they look like today [is] not available. To be an auto repair person is a much more technically challenging role than it was when I went through school. There are a lot of jobs that are good, solid, well-paying jobs that do require more than just graduating from high school and working out at your local garage. But they're looking for people who actually have some technical training.

What are the next steps that need to be taken to improve STEM education?

Making the Common Core and Next Generation Science standards be what they were intended to be, and really implementing those well, is critical. And that's a huge task. We can't set that aside because there's still a lot of work to be done there. In schools, to begin to reinvest in the kind of infrastructure that allows for the time, the collaboration, and the facilities and space that it actually takes to do science. I think that's a critical need here in this country to make sure that teachers can teach science, that kids have the place to learn science, and that everybody has the time to do science, which is messy and you have to set it up and clean it up and all those things. [We need to make] those attitudinal changes ... and [begin] to chip away at attitudes that get in the way of kids believing that they can or would want to do this.

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