By ALAN J. ORTBALS
STEM education is all about how science, technology, engineering and mathematics work together to solve problems, according to Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber.
“There are no silos of knowledge in technology,” Daiber said. “You don’t just have science; you don’t just have math. It takes all four working together to make things happen.”
The Madison County regional office of education holds a week-long STEM camp every summer for third- through sixth-graders. Ninety students participated in the camp last year.
“Our office is the prime host of it, but we also have corporate sponsors like Phillips 66 and the Simmons Law Firm,” Daiber said. “We breakout the kids who are attending the camp by their age groups and they go through a weeklong set of learning experiences, working with science and technology to get a real grasp on how things are designed and engineered in our world. They’ve done things like make a model rocket; build a device that collects heat; create propulsion systems; and learned how microprocessors transmit information in all these handheld devices we have today, from our watches to our cell phones.”
The regional education office is also involved in the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities in Edwardsville along with SIUE Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach, Lewis and Clark Community College, and the Madison County Housing Authority. Late last year the group announced the opening of the Alma Irene Aitch STEM Center at the Mannie Jackson complex, named for a woman who taught at the Lincoln Grammar School, the original school in which the Jackson operation is now located, from 1924 to 1951.
Participating schools in Madison County that want and need support in STEM education will be able to get help there, Daiber said. The center will provide professional development for teachers; offer demonstrations and STEM related lessons that would be prohibitive for many schools to conduct; and it will focus on the integration of the four STEM disciplines in our technological world.
“It’s just so exciting to see these kids engaged,” Daiber said. “STEM education is engaged learning. It’s not passive learning. It’s not lecture. It’s not reading about it. It’s doing it.”