Thursday, October 8, 2009

I-STEM ....

Over the years emphasis has been given to "Science & Math", "Technology & Math", "Engineering & Technology" and more recently to "Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)" skill sets. I would recommend that this be extended to I-STEM to include Imagination and Innovation.

Our IEEE Central NC Section Education Activities outreach in the local schools has used this concept in promoting Engineering and Technology Career Options. We have used the Transportation Area in the Greensboro Children's Museum as a vehicle to emphasize the importance of Imagination and STEM.

You can see a number of slides that demonstrate these in various Transportation Areas in the Museum for the following:
- Rail Transportation Infrastructure
- Air Transportation System
- Air Traffic Control Tower
- Marine Systems
- Fire Protection & Safety Systems
- Police Technology
- Transportation & Entertainment
- Energy System
The charts also emphasize the importance of Future Vehicle Control and getting involved in with the Future.

DestinationImagiNation promotes the importance of Imagination and has several challenges that give all ages experience in using their imagination. From the standpoint of Metaphors for the 21st Century (M21C), imagination and innovation comes into play when Entrepreneurship (Business Hat) is thinking about business models, products or ways to improve processes. Also, the STEM skill sets are important to the Scientist, Engineering and Technology Hats, in that they are essential to understand how new concepts and technologies can be applied to current and new products. The M21C Hats are discussed in other posts of this blog and on the BC Services & Wares web site.

Therefore, it seems to me that the M21C Hats may have the STEM skill sets but without Imagination and Innovation they will not realize their full potential. So I recommend you use our M21C metaphors and your I-STEM to aid in realizing full potential of your products, business models and Entrepreneurship.

Post Script:
After writing this blog, I ran across an interesting article "Engineering — The Silent "E" in K-12 Education" which indicates that too often STEM equates to STM.  This relates to my opening comments about the different ways people relate to STEM.  A new report, Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects, released last month by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council's Center for Education discusses this. 

The report finds that science and technology education in the United States has so far mostly focused on science, technology and mathematics — commonly abbreviated as "STEM," even though the "E" in STEM stands for engineering.

"A major unintended finding of this report is that engineering is the 'silent E' in STEM," says Greg Pearson, Senior Program Officer at the National Academy of Engineering. "What the committee came to realize, after lots of research, digging and workshops, is that despite the increasing national attention to STEM education, nearly all of the major references almost always referring to science or mathematics or the two in combination, but almost never to T and E."

The report also found that, in practice the T — technology — often relates to computer technology, not technology education.

The report goes on to say, "But despite its silence, the E does exist, it just isn't talked about as much or as well understood by the public, or even by the education field. The report actually found that a growing number of K-12 students in the U.S. are experiencing the open-ended, problem-solving process of engineering design. More importantly, data compiled by the committee suggest that these design-oriented experiences can improve student interest and achievement in science and mathematics, increase awareness of engineering as a profession and the work of engineers, boost interest in pursuing engineering as a career, and increase general technological literacy."

Hopefully reading the above report and this blog the reader will have a better understanding of STEM and I-STEM.

Postscript 7/21/2011
I recently discovered this website which adds "Arts" to STEM.  I feel it addresses somewhat the idea which I had written about in this blog.  I now promote I-STEAM to include "Arts"; it emphasizes the importance of creativity which may not be oblivious in STEM.