Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Back from the Rockies, I'm inspired to prepare my students for the 21st Century & a STEM Career

Last month, thirty three K-12 science teachers from across the country participated in Colorado's Keystone Science School’s “Key Issues Institute." A Duke Energy Foundation Grant sponsored 14 Florida teachers. I am a 6th grade science teacher from Fort White, Florida, a rural North Central Florida school district. I was fortunate to be one of them.

A STEM “Summer School” for teachers, the training provided us with the working knowledge to effectively implement STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) strategies for our students while emphasizing environmental impacts.

The training I received will enable me to return to my classroom and implement projects that will inspire my students to ask questions and define issues in their local communities. It’s my hope that my students will become engaged in examining and advancing their own ideas by reflecting on what they already know to conduct research and develop testable investigations they can carry out in their own “backyards”.  

My elementary school background has made me well aware that girls start out as strong in math and science as boys, but lose interest along the way. I've heard this called "the leaky pipeline."

With what I learned at KSS, my hope is to "plug" the leaks by keeping my female students engaged and interested in solving local community problems. I want all my students becoming environmental stewards for the future. I want my girls to dream that they also can have a future in a STEM career.

The Keystone Science School believes that inspiring classroom teachers will, in turn, inspire curiosity and critical thinking in our students through the lens of science in day-to-day classroom instruction. After completing the five day training, I’m enthusiastic about the potential local impact.  

Today’s education should prepare young people for life, work and citizenship.

The charge instilled in me and the other attendees by KSS, is to stimulate our classrooms with collaboration, reflection and openness of ideas. This will prepare our students to become engaged citizens ready for the workforce of today and tomorrow.

Thanks to Duke Energy Florida, who believes in powering Florida with more than just electricity, I left Colorado inspired with the desire and the know-how to prepare my students for the 21st Century.

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