When you hear the phrase “STEM” tossed around in education, you immediately think of biologists, chemists and engineers who use science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their careers.
But how does a student develop a love for their STEM fields at an early age? Enter Edinboro University student Jessica Porter, who focuses on STEM concepts and skills in her pre-service classroom.
A native of Pittsburgh, Porter is currently a senior at EU, where she’s pursuing a dual degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. Additionally, she has added the STEM certification to her official transcript.
Why did you choose to participate in a STEM program?
I chose to participate in a STEM program at Edinboro University because, courtesy of my undergraduate classes and field experiences, I have learned the importance and emphasis of STEM in early childhood education. I was eager to learn how to incorporate STEM across the curriculum and develop engaging, hands-on STEM opportunities for my students.
How did you decide which STEM field was right for you?
I am currently a senior at Edinboro University studying early childhood and special education. I decided to add a STEM certification in education to help improve my teaching instruction and ability to help students tap into their natural and innate curiosity of the world.
What is a typical day like in your STEM experience?
A typical day integrating STEM into an early childhood classroom could simply be allowing students to investigate and explore, while encouraging them to ask questions about the real world. STEM can be found across multiple content areas in education, including literacy. An important component of STEM is the 4 C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. It is vital for students to develop these 21st Century skills throughout their education.
What was the most memorable moment of your STEM program?
The most memorable moment of my STEM program was when I was given the opportunity to present my STEM box to my peers and other professionals at Edinboro’s Academic Festival. A STEM box is a standards-based educational resource that covers multiple content areas while engaging and inspiring students to explore. My STEM box was pumpkin themed and included a wide variety of materials such as stories, gourds, unifex cubes, measuring tape, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, scales, etc. The activities inside the box ranged from comprehension to measurement. This experience assisted me in discovering my passion for STEM and my love of education.
What advice do you have for students looking at STEM career paths?
My advice to teens exploring a career path or degree in STEM is to research all of the different opportunities available and once you find something that sparks your interest or passion, then go for it. STEM is broad and there is something for everyone, what ties it all together is the focus on creating new knowledge, solving problems, and learning about the world around us. Awesome stuff.
To learn more about Edinboro University’s School of Education and STEM certification, visit www.edinboro.edu/SOE.