“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Children everywhere are asked that question, and the answers are as diverse as the variety of backgrounds that comprise our nation – but there is a skew. As children get older their answers tend to change, and the bleak reality is that demographics such as socioeconomic status are strong predictors for what grouping of jobs that child will eventually settle on aspiring to be. Students in low-income school districts are often not given the resources with which to follow in the footsteps of their dreams and take on careers that are both emotionally fulfilling and economically satiable. STEM education is the key to changing this.
As jobs requiring some degree of STEM education beginning to saturate the job market, it’s now more important than ever for students to get the technical knowledge necessary to tackle tomorrow’s problems. STEM education offers benefits such as increases in expected wages, exposure to an important way of thinking that can impact a student’s future in ways from their financial decision making to their career choice, and more.
STEM programs are successful in engaging and retaining large numbers of students from diverse backgrounds, using lessons that focus on a student’s natural curiosity. Participation in STEM programs help them develop their abilities to engage in processes of investigation, as well as exposure to team-work and collaborative environments. STEM education is unique in that it breeds an appreciation for the world around us because it challenges students to decompose their normal ways of thinking and to break down their understandings of the world. Simple questions like why sugar dissolves in water and how a seed becomes a tree lead to jobs that prevent wildfires from destroying cities and hurricanes from impacting communities to the point of no return. Careers in these fields are more important than ever in the context of climate change as these students will be the leaders of tomorrow.
What the Tangency Foundation aims to do is develop a STEM curriculum that requires little-to-no resources through the use of nature. While maintaining the common core standards, each module is being designed to feature ubiquitous materials, and all other materials are available at no cost to teachers directly from the organization. The objective is to showcase how nature can be utilized as a resource to combat inefficiencies in the funding of school districts, while simultaneously imbuing students with an appreciation for the environment which may lead to exploration of careers in STEM.
The Tangency Foundation is a nonprofit 501©3 conservation and education organization. Started July 2016 by three students working on coastal clean ups, it has grown to include a variety of projects aimed at increasing awareness of the challenges facing us today within an environmental context. With a deep-rooted belief that no student should be left on the tangency, we strive to bring access to resources to students of all backgrounds and standing, and to cultivate an environment which propounds an appreciation for the planet.
Visit us at www.prettyplanet.org