Monday, December 28, 2009


In my October blog I-STEM, I suggested we should expand the concept of STEM to I-STEM, to include Imagination/Innovation.

Follow-on thinking has evolved this to the CTE-I-STEM Cookie concept as discussed below.

For this blog Acronym “CTE” refers to Career Technical Education ; Acronym “I” refers to Imagination/Innovation and Acronym “STEM” refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The North Carolina Standard Course of Study Guide provides detailed information about CTE course offerings in North Carolina.  The NCSTEM website discusses STEM in more detail.

The May 2009 Education Week’s SPOTLIGHT on STEM in Schools article starting on page 14 entitled “STEM as a Curriculum - An Experiential Approach” , By Jan Morrison & Raymond V. “Buzz” Bartlett have some interesting points which support some of the concepts discussed in this blog.

One of the points is:
” Effective teaching and learning in both STEM and Career and Technology Education are, practically speaking, the flip sides of the same coin.”

The concept of flip sides of the same coin trigged my thinking to what is addressed in this blog as two faces of a cookie or sandwich.

If we look at STEM as one face of a cookie or sandwich and CTE as the other face, then the good stuff in the middle is Imagination and Innovation; therefore it seems logical to think of all three in terms of a CTE-I-STEM cookie, or sandwich.

You don’t get a good cookie or sandwich without the two faces containing good stuff in the middle. Dagwood and his sandwiches are a prime example of imagination and innovation working on the ingredients of a sandwich.

The Education Week’s SPOTLIGHT on STEM article goes on to say,
“We must first recognize STEM as a unitary idea, not simply a grouping of the four disciplines in a convenient, pronounceable acronym.”

“The University of Maryland engineering professor Leigh R. Abts has used the term “metadiscipline” to describe STEM, meaning a realm of knowledge that speaks to the presentation of technical subjects as they exist in the natural world, part and parcel of each other. “

It goes on to say “This approach breaks down the boundaries of disciplines devised by and for academia, our historical taxonomy of learning reinforced by Charles W. Eliot and the National Education Association’s Committee of Ten in the late 1800s. Organizing knowledge into disciplines may be useful for research, for delving deeply into the secrets of any natural phenomenon, or for dividing up knowledge into teachable chunks. But it does not reflect the reality or convey the excitement of the world we live in. Neither does it help lead students toward inquiry’s counterpoint: solving problems by applying knowledge to design solutions. This is what students will be called on to do in the workplace and in life.”

In my humble opinion, the ideas of “Unitary” and “metadiscipline” can be applied to the concept of including CTE-I-STEM.

Recently while celebrating my youngest grandson’s birthday at the NASCAR Theme park at Concord Mills, I shared with him and his friend the concept of the Cookie Challenge. This would consist of a group with teams of 5-6 individuals working together based on M21C Innovative Engine Team. The cookie challenge teams would decide what their challenge would be and compete based on using M21C concepts in their approaches to the challenges.

Using a napkin to define STEM and CTE; and explain the M21C Innovative Engine Team; I then used Book light and Repen examples to demonstrate the various functions of Customer/Marketplace, Technologist /Production-Service, Engineer/Development, Scientist/Research and Business/Entrepreneur team. My July blog on Entrepreneur Hats describes this and includes the Logistics Hat.

When asked to use their imagination for another ride at the theme park they started drawing an airplane on a napkin.

The highlight of this session was when my grandson took the napkin and folded it and put it in his pocket, maybe it will be a seed that will sprout.

For several years, I have been plagued with the idea of PIE (Pre-college Innovative Engines) in our Schools. Maybe the approach of a Cookie Challenge would be a viable way to plant the seeds of PIE in our Schools.

If these 9 year old boys can grasp the concept of a Cookie Challenge then it would seem others could also.

Our local High School held “The Reality Store” for 10th graders. The format of stations (Bank, Taxes, Housing, Transportation, Utilities, etc) could be structured around the Innovative Engine Team with the objective of an Innovative product or service resulting from the exercise. Anyway it seems worth additional thought.

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.
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