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5 Ways Supportive School Culture Can Counter Lagging STEM Achievement and Inequity

Whenever I think about my STEM journey, I cannot help but remember a trip to Purdue University during my sophomore year of high school. Walking through a campus with multiple buildings dedicated to engineering pursuits. Watching students and professors work on experiments with real-life implications. Having the chance to participate, however briefly, in their endeavors.

My trip to Purdue University was a defining one. Years later, it still guides my work at the National Math and Science Initiative, because it embodies the impact school culture can have on students’ interest in STEM — especially when those students do not fit typical STEM workforce demographics.

I was one of just a few Black students at my high school — and didn’t have a Black teacher until I went to college — but I did have teachers who noticed my passion for science and channeled it into programs like the one that took me on that Purdue visit.

I wish I could say my sophomore memory is the norm for students today, given the explosive STEM career growth that has occurred in the decades since. Instead, STEM education in the U.S. is at a standstill at best, and regressing at worst, while much of the rest of the world charges forward.

A history of inequities in STEM, combined with lagging advancement in STEM instruction, are troubling realities. Yet there are hundreds of schools across the country already making a difference — paving the way for a brighter future.

Having worked with many of those inspiring schools at NMSI, I wanted to share five components of a school culture that advances high-quality, equitable STEM education.

Read more at K-12Dive.com