Increasing science, technology, engineering and math subjects at the elementary level is a hot topic of discussion among those in the education field. Many teachers and administrators acknowledge that change is needed, however, little is actually being done. In a 2011 article from, The Lawrence Hall of Science at Berkley, alarming facts regarding elementary science education were reported:
“Forty percent of elementary teachers say they spend just 60 minutes or less teaching science each week. Just one-third of elementary teachers say they feel prepared to teach science, but 85 percent of teachers say they have not received any professional development in science during the last three years. And while nine in ten principals say science education is very important and should start early, less than half of principals (44%) believe it is likely that a student would receive high-quality science instruction in his or her school.”
So, how do we change these discussions for change into an actuality? I believe teacher training programs and certification programs are essential for change. In contrary to high school teachers, elementary teachers (who possess a multi-subject teaching credential) do not receive any formal science training. Traditionally, science education has been emphasized at 9-12 levels and therefore the majority of training programs, grants and professional workshops has been on those grade levels and teachers. However, research supports the earlier students are introduced to STEM topics, the increased likelihood of those students pursuing a STEM career later in life. New research states STEM training needs to be embedded into credentialing programs, and current teachers need to be given the proper resources, materials and funds to teacher science effectively!