Stepping Up in STEM Education
THE ALARM HAS SOUNDED. America has fallen behind emerging economic powers in the developing world in preparing its children for the technology-driven economy of the 21st century. In the diverse bellwether state of Florida, lawmakers have identified the need to build world-class talent in science and mathematics as a top priority for developing a skilled and educated workforce.
UF’s College of Education is a first responder. Our faculty scholars have devised aggressive strategies to strengthen STEM education in our own backyard and across the state and nation. Here is a glimpse of those initiatives:
In 2012, after nearly half of Florida’s ninth-graders failed a required Algebra 1 end-of-course exam, the college’s Lastinger Center sought a solution. They came up with Algebra Nation, an interactive, Web-based resource that gives users access to some of the state’s best math teachers and e-learning resources. It was such a hit with teachers and students that the Florida Legislature in 2013 allocated $2 million for UF to create Algebra Nation 2.0 and integrate this upgraded, user-friendly app in school districts across the state. The program continues to grow and grow—in quality, services and usage. Read more about this initiative
“This type of awareness and insight cannot be easily gained in the traditional settings in which teachers learn.”
— Dimple Flesner, associate director of UFTeach and co-principal investigator of STEM EduGators
Robotics in the schools: a pathway to science/engineering careers
FIRST Robotics Competition, a public charity created to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, was introduced in 2012 to P.K. Yonge, UF’s K-12 developmental research school. FIRST challenges teams to custom-build and program a robot—in just six weeks—to perform prescribed tasks against an international field of competitors. The experience helps students gain technical knowledge and skills in science and engineering and experience life lessons on the value of collaboration and innovative thinking. P.K. Yonge’s Roaring Riptide team in 2015 won the South regionals and placed high in the international FIRST Robotics world championships.Read more about the team