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Connecting with STEM through Technology

April 22, 2016

We all know that STEM has plenty to do with technology – it is the “T” in the acronym, after all. But a group of schools in Maine is demonstrating that tech isn’t just what you learn in STEM, it’s how you learn it. From practicing computer code to experimenting with chemical reactions to designing and building bridges, these students do it all, and it’s thanks to technology that their schools can bring STEM skills into the classroom.

In Mickey Flores’ middle school science classes, for instance, students learn about reactions by Skyping with a scientist at Vanderbilt University. Once their teacher demonstrates the basics, they jump online to talk face-to-face with a pro who walks them through the process of mixing different chemicals together. “When they hear it from someone in charge of a lab in a university,” says Flores, “it makes it much more real.”

And tech comes up in other STEM-focused classes as well. Before they build bridges out of cardboard and duct tape, students in a modern-day shop class create computer models to test whether their structures will stand up. Even programming teacher Laura Johns finds imaginative ways to use tech. She gets her class engaged in writing simple computer commands by having them play the popular online game Minecraft.

Despite their size—the towns implementing this work all have populations under 2,000-- they’ve been able to make STEM a priority in the classroom thanks to the power of tech. With video chatting to keep them connected, and online games that bring concepts to life, students in schools big and small can use digital tools to approach these important 21st-century concepts in a whole new way.