Got STEM funding? Here’s how to use it

This three-pronged approach will help districts maximize their STEM investment

Next, make smart edtech purchases
Teachers can’t rely on textbooks alone to teach specific subjects. Children learn STEAM topics best through hands-on education, so a textbook may not provide the perspective or interactivity that students require to truly grasp important concepts. As a result, many U.S. teachers look to a variety of resources to help compile lesson plans—both online and offline.

Teachers tend to invest in useful products or platforms individually, but districts need to consider purchasing tools that will help everyone get on the same page. That being said, it’s important for school administrators to do their homework when choosing the right edtech products for their schools. Products that include both hardware and software are good investments. Hardware, alone, becomes outdated very quickly, so having a software component welcomes updates, remains current, and promises a longer shelf life—all key considerations for school districts operating on a tight budget.

Last but not least, incorporate coding as a part of every subject
Schools, teachers, and education companies need to do a better job in communicating that coding is for all students who are interested in all subjects—not just science. Coding is an essential skill for many careers, including some that may not be so obvious, like design, finance, and marketing. That’s why it’s so important to incorporate coding into lesson plans for every subject.

Shon Burton, chief executive officer of HiringSolved, believes that students who are comfortable around computers and understand some programming will have advantages in the future automated workplace, including creativity and critical thinking skills. I’m a firm that having an understanding of these concepts offers benefits across a variety of areas.

Spending STEM funds wisely
Providing cross-curriculum content and support for teachers that is both assessable and mapped to national standards is a key strategic move for schools considering where to use the money coming from the U.S. DoE grant or the private sector. Coding skills can be incorporated into art and history classes, as well as science and math. Helping students to become familiar with the principles of STEM in a variety of contexts and helping them integrate these skills into all that they do is invaluable.

So, how can we most efficiently use funds intended for coding education into U.S. classrooms? We need to prioritize proper teacher training, research and outfit the most appropriate edtech products for lesson plans, and devise curriculums that highlight the STEAM principles that are truly present in all school subjects. Whether it’s making the most of a local grant or receiving any fraction of a $300 million private tech giant investment, focusing on these key components when developing plans to better incorporate coding education into curriculums is sure to steer schools in the right direction and ensure that these funds aren’t put to waste.

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