ANTWERP — If you think you know what the acronym for the STEM education program stands for, just ask Dr. Cindy Moss for another viewpoint.
As vice president of the global STEM program, Moss knows all about science, technology, engineering and math, which is how most people who know about the program would respond if someone were to ask them what it stands for.
But Moss herself never calls it that. As far as she is concerned, she said, “STEM stands for Students and Teachers Organizing Minds.
The Antwerp Local School District hosted Moss for a day-long leader forum detailing STEM, including how those districts involved in the program are implementing education to their students. Numerous educators from Antwerp and around the area took part in the program, which was held Thursday at the school.
A product of the Discovery Education Program, STEM is taught in over 60 countries. Its emphasis is on developing problem solving skills, using what it calls its four C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.
“Every teacher needs to be a STEM teacher,” said Moss, who compared much of the modern teaching system to individual containers of paint, separate and isolated. Putting them together so they intermingle is a more accurate comparison to the real world, she said, where problems from various phases of life can combine.
“We want school to be the way life is,” she noted. “We need to use everything we have and put it all together.”
STEM involves giving students problems to solve and giving them time to figure them out, she noted. While younger students are often seen working on engineering problems using STEM, older students and even adults can benefit.
Attendees at the program took part in problem solving techniques by collaborating in a race to build a three-dimension geometric shape with pentagon-shaped objects, with Moss offering help along the way.
One of the four C’s that many students needed to work on, she said, is communication, particularly where gifted students are concerned. Those who are not used to requiring assistance need to be told sometimes that it was okay to ask for help.
Moss also showed brief presentations on determined young people who have invented things ranging from homemade windmills to retractable training wheels for bicycles, asking those in attendance to think about each case and determine the characteristics of each of the innovators they watched.
Prior to lunch, attendants toured the media center, where they got to see students demonstrating problem solving techniques in such things as robotics and working small-size vehicles they made themselves.