We must respond by creating and supporting scalable STEM programs that produce results

STEM-scalable-solutionsTransforming STEM education and, as a result, the U.S. workforce, will require more than homegrown or one-off localized programs. This is a national challenge that requires scalable and sustainable solutions.

We must focus on high-quality, integrated, activity-, project-, and problem-based programs that work, and then take those programs to scale. All children deserve a quality education that will help them develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in the global economy.

So the question is: what is necessary to create scalable, sustainable organizations?

Scalability is a complex issue–one that can’t be answered with a simple step-by-step list. To be scalable, an organization must first be sustainable, generating operating revenue that helps reduce the philanthropic support gap.

Dependence upon philanthropic support makes an organization vulnerable, challenging it to raise more capital to expand, or even sustain, operations. Taking an organization to scale requires leadership, a clear vision dedicated to innovation and continuous improvement, and alignment of resources that allows an organization to stay accountable to and focused on its mission.

Despite the complexity, a few key elements must exist for a program to transform STEM education and the STEM workforce: 1) engaging and effective curriculum; 2) high-quality training for teachers, school leaders and organizational staff; 3) infrastructure to support growth; and 4) engaged partners.

Curriculum matters. We must provide students with curriculum that is engaging and relevant. Students inevitably ask, “Why do we have to learn this?” We fail them if our best answer is “because it’s on the test.” And we must get to them early. The sooner students can be introduced to the hands-on, practical application of these subjects, the more likely they are to develop interest in STEM.

(Next page: Scaling the STEM crisis with Project Lead The Way)