If you’ve been hearing how American school children and teens are not learning as much as they should in STEM fields, stop by NJIT Aug. 6-8, 2012, for a story to debunk the myth. You will see students not only immersed in these subjects, but happily creating memories:
• Seventh graders who were studying mechanical engineering and putting finishing touches on their five-foot high roller coasters
• Ninth graders electronically maneuvering their custom-built Lego robots around desks and chairs
• Lava lamps lighting up hallways, T-shirts being tie-dyed and soil toxicity tests as fifth grade environmental engineers go about completing their tasks.The engine behind this innovative curriculum is NJIT’s Center for Pre-College Programs which draws to a close next week. It annually services about 3,000 middle and elementary school youngsters, many of them from homes and communities throughout New Jersey where they might not have an opportunity like this. More often than not, these are not teens enrolled in New Jersey’s best middle or high schools. But the youngsters come here and spend anywhere from two to six weeks living on or commuting to campus and throwing themselves into completing an assortment of unique and compelling hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects. Reporters and photographers are welcome to stop by and see for themselves a multitude of proudly-displayed masterpieces. (Call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436, for interview and parking arrangements.)
The Center for Pre-College Programs http://www.njit.edu/precollege/about/index.php increases access to scientific and technological fields among traditionally underrepresented populations and improves the teaching of science and mathematics in secondary and elementary schools.
Achievement is reflected in the accomplishments of the Center’s many pre-college alumni who become teachers and, in turn, show youngsters a better way. All programs involve corporate partners, local school districts, non-profit educational organizations, and NJIT. The corporate partners provide classroom speakers, financial support, role models, field trips, and expertise in the teaching of science and engineering.
More than two decades of involvement in pre-college science and engineering programs have convinced NJIT and its partners that intervention must begin in the elementary grades. Hence, NJIT has greatly increased its activities aimed at improving science teaching in the classroom and reforming the elementary science curriculum as early as kindergarten.