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

real logo hi res The US of A is at it again – still trying to reform more education for today and tomorrow. We continue trying to find more ways to address the learning needs of kids everywhere. Not just the college-bound, but kids everywhere, boys and girls, younger and older.  Among the many efforts is STEM (Science, Teachnology, Engineering Mathematics), one of those needed reform movements that can help ALL our young 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. There’s already another branch shoot connected to STEM. It’s called STEAM, adding the needed “A” for ARTS to the movement. Science and Arts gives the student a far more comprehensive curriculum. DonRawitsch STEM/STEAM is building up a powerful head of steam in K12 by directing educators and communities toward comprehensive systemic change across the schools that dot our nation.

Thanks to our frequent guest blogger Don Rawitsch, and his viewpoints on systemic change in K12, plus his vison on STEM products that work, here’s part one of our two part blog on STEM and Systemic Change. First we present our own overview of STEM. Then will come Don’s views on Systemic Change in part two.

Don, you will recall, brought Oregon Trail to K12 learning, arguably the most famous simulation game of all time. Not surprisingly, he has once again been a leader with the STEM vision.



Just look at Don’s STEM influence on this informative video by clicking on the STEM graphic to 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 it. 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 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 it aimed at causing long-lasting systemic change.Have these attempts been successful? YES! 

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 is beginning to happen. The success of these change efforts is going to depend upon some often overlooked but critical factors. And a lot of consistent focus and hard work! RE@L know how to do it!

                Come back in a week or so and join us for Don Rawitsch’s answer:

Part Two of the “The Rest of the RE@L Story!”


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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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