Aug 15 2013

Utah's STEM Action Center Puts Ed-Tech to Work

The state walked teachers through 11 technologies designed to boost student achievement and improve college readiness.

It’s one thing to create a STEM plan, but it’s quite another to see it in action.

While many states and school districts talk about STEM initiatives, Utah has dedicated a whole Action Center to improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The center was created earlier this spring for a cool $10 million. You could say that Utah is putting its money where its STEM is.

While the program is relatively new, the state is already getting its hands dirty, so to speak, by rolling out a teacher technology training session for the new technologies the state plans to pilot this fall, reports Deseret News.

Teachers were able to experiment with 11 different technology programs designed to engage and inspire students with STEM-focused interactive learning experiences. Learning software programs were the focus of the training session as educators hope that such programs will allow students to comfortably work at their own pace, according to the report.

Rachel Southwick, a fourth-grade teacher who participated in a demonstration of the Think Through Math program, said computer and tablet-based learning appeals to the interests of today’s children.

“It’s just way individualized,” she said. “They don’t have to stay with the class the entire time. If they’re ready to move on, they can.”

Lissa Saunders, a sixth-grade teacher who also participated in the Think Through Math presentation, said the program is designed to be used not just in the classroom, but at home as well.

“It helps to fill gaps (students) may have,” she said. “I think it gives the kids great practice. It brings the interest to their level.”

The STEM pilot is expected to reach more than 31,500 students across grades seven, eight and 10, according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

If Utah’s STEM Action Center is able to drive meaningful changes in the state’s education initiatives, expect other states to follow suit.


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