STEM at Oak Ridge Schools is all about skills for the workforce
STEM can mean science, technology, engineering and math, but for Oak Ridge Schools STEM coordinator Kathy Foust, it’s more than that.
Foust addressed the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce during a Zoom lunch meeting.
“Oak Ridge Schools takes a very holistic view when it comes to STEM,” she said. “All teachers are STEM teachers.
“All content areas are STEM,” she said, even physical education.
She explained that STEM teaches a “set of behaviors and skills that students need to succeed in the 21st century workforce.”
She listed what the World Economic Forum considered to be the top 10 skills employers would consider important in 2025.
These skills are analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and reflective strategies; solving complex problems; critical thinking and analysis; creativity originality and initiative; leadership and social influence; use, monitoring and control of technology; technology design and programming; resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility; and reasoning, problem solving and ideation.
Foust talked about a much shorter list of skills associated with STEM: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. She said the school system aims to use these “4Cs throughout the year in PreK-12 across all content areas.”
“There’s nothing in it that’s just science, technology, engineering, or math,” she said. “We all teach these skills. Just through different avenues and different ways.
She said STEM frequently involves project-based learning, which includes learning by working on projects.
She gave a few examples of programs that she felt related to these ideas. A striking example she cited was the RamSat project in which Robertsville Middle School students worked on a satellite that entered orbit. Another example she gave was the Fall into STEM event at Willow Brook Elementary School, in which students work with robots to complete various tasks related to different subjects. Another example she described was the Titanic Living Museum for third graders.
Ben Pounds is a reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317, follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal and email him at [email protected]