Building Up MORE Steam for STEM - The RE@L Way! Part Three

real logo hi resWe continue trying to find more ways to address the learning needs of all kids everywhere. Not just the college-bound, all learners, boys and girls, younger and older, with differing interests and talents.  We keep searching for a curriculum that can embrace all these needs. Well, we found one!  STEM! It stands for  Science, Teachnology, Engineering, Mathematics. It is the one initiative, of all the current reform movements, that can actually engage and teach ALL our learners.

STEM InvestigationsHere’s how they all link together: Classroom Learning + Field Experiences + RE@L World Change. See the graphic showing this critical connection on the right. Remember that old Chinese saying: I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand. The DOING is an integral part of STEM. It gives the student a far more comprehensive curriculum.

Not only do students get a chance to collaborate (as do workers in the real world), but they also are exposed to many differents jobs and careers. STEM helps them explore their interests and develop their skills to pursue a career. STEM, as a part of Project-Based Learning is building up a powerful momentum in K12 by leading educators and communities toward these comprehensive systemic changes in curriculum across the schools that cover our nation.

DonRawitschMore good news! Don Rawitsch, who has blogged previously on STEM + Systemic Change will soon be contributing more commentaries here on this critically important topic. Don’s further views on emerging STEM issues and Systemic Change will follow in future blogs.

You may recall that Don and his team brought Oregon Trail to K12 learning over 40 years ago. Oregon Trail is arguably the most famous simulation game of all time. Not surprisingly, he has once again been a leader with the development of the STEM vision.



Just look at Don’s STEM influence on an informative video by clicking on the STEM graphic on the left. We all know that K12 education is huge: Currently there are over 13,000 public school districts; 100,000 public school buildings K-12; and our real resource is our 50,000,000 students! If we can get them all involved in STEM models, that’s a lot of RE@L steam for needed change. RE@L knows how to do this. We hear that whistle calling and are helping with the “All Aboard!”

Can it be done, you ask? We here at RE@L say: YES! It can….IF we build systemic change into our curriculum and learning resources. And modern technology, iPads, mobile devices and computers are a major part of it. STEM is now a national effort, currently being propelled by a wide range of forward-thinking reformers in businesses, government, and schools. Money is flowing, ideas are abounding and the level of activity is hitting unprecedented heights.

If we can unite  to make this work, it will affect millions of our young students, everywhere. Americans, who have in the past witnessed many previous education reform efforts, can now draw comparisons to past attempts to create systemic change in our national K12 system.

NSFOld timers, like your RE@L Blog Team, harken back to the days of science and mathematics efforts of the 60′s and 70’s. The National Science Foundation worked diligently to bring forth more science and mathematics teachers and curriculums for the last 60 years> All of this effort is aimed at causing long-lasting Systemic Change. Have these attempts been successful?

YES! Many have. Yes, but….. have they caused lasting and effective systemic change? Arguably, the answer has to be NO!

Even though the K12 system initially embraces change, the objectives and the efforts and money poured into implementing the system have not sustained change. Without a plan that adapts to new challenges, the  system quickly finds its way back to what it was. STEMThe use of technology in K12 over the last 40 yrs has been a rapidly increasing evolution of computers in the teaching/learning process.

It is clear that Systemic Change in our schools is beginning to happen. It’s happening with STEM. The success of these change efforts is going to depend upon some often overlooked but critical, needed factors: A lot of consistent focus and dedicated hard workRE@L has already started doing it.


Stay  tuned for more on STEM, Systemic Change and Project-Based Learning!


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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.

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