Delaware evaluates one year of STEM-focused education

Delaware educators are looking to strengthen education in four specific areas where students may be most likely to find jobs in the future.

In a seventh-grade science lab at Wilmington’s P.S. DuPont Middle School, students are learning about underwater robotics, developing 3-D printing technology, and growing hydroponic plants that don’t need soil.  It was here that members of the Delaware STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Council and Governor Jack Markell unveiled a progress report on the first year of this focus in Delaware public schools.

The STEM fields are expected to be growth areas in terms of job-creation and innovation, and former U.S. Senator and STEM Council Co-chair Ted Kaufman said Delaware has the potential to create its own technology boom – as long as area businesses, public schools and institutions of higher education are constantly communicating. 

“Delaware has the opportunity to really have an incredibly unique position in this business,” Kaufman said.  He also emphasized that while not all students will pursue STEM-oriented careers, it’s important in just about every field to have some education in these four areas. 

Educators are looking to improve the test scores of Delaware students, to improve participation rates in STEM-related AP exams, and to improve the passage rates among female and minority students in particular.  The first-year report also addressed the need to offer more training for teachers in engineering and technology. 

The council’s goals for the near future include creating an independent STEM Business Network.  “The Business Network will consider initiatives such as connecting STEM professionals to schools that seek speakers or co-teachers, and offering internship opportunities to students and teachers,” STEM Council Co-chair Judson Wagner said. 

The panel is also looking into a grants and awards program that will honor the work of outstanding STEM mentors and business supporters.  A website, stem.delaware.gov, is also being created to serve as a clearinghouse of information regarding STEM-related programs.  

“There are some really specific things, I think some things to open all of our eyes about areas where we can make some progress,” Governor Markell said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.