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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 8: ‘Forgotten’ STEM elements

eSchool News counts down the ten most significant developments in educational technology during the past year. No. 8 highlights STEM efforts.

STEM-Top10In school systems from coast to coast, tech-savvy educators experimented with augmented reality, educational gaming, and other techniques designed to enhance teaching and learning.

These are only some of the key ed-tech developments affecting K-12 schools in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you.

Here, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant ed-tech stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on K-12 schools this year—and how they will continue to shape education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

(Next page: What’s often overlooked in STEM education?)

8. Schools focus on the ‘forgotten’ elements of STEM education.

In most of the national conversations about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, it’s the “S” and the “M” that get all the attention.

Click here to access a PDF of all Top 10 stories.

But those oft-forgotten middle terms, technology and engineering, were pushed into the spotlight this year as well, thanks to sweeping initiatives such as the Next Generation Science Standards and the Hour of Code.

After two years in development, the Next Generation Science Standards—a project led by 26 states—arrived in April. Along with a focus on rigor and real-world application, the standards call for K-12 schools to integrate engineering principles throughout the science curriculum.

That marks a significant change for teachers in states that have adopted the new standards—and it has forced education leaders to make sure their teachers have the resources needed to teach engineering concepts.

It’s not just the content itself that is a challenge; teachers also must be willing to relinquish some control.

“They move from being the deliverer of knowledge to being a facilitator of activity, and for some of them, that’s a big learning process,” said Jennifer Proffitt, high school STEM curriculum coordinator for the Parkway School District in St. Louis. Parkway received a $1.5 million federal Math and Science Partnership grant to train third through fifth grade science teachers.

Support for teaching computer science and coding skills also grew this year. According to, computer science is the highest-paid college degree, and jobs in computer programming are growing at two times the national average—yet fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science.

What’s more, 40 states don’t count computer science toward math or science requirements for high school graduation, and only 10 percent of schools offer computer programming classes. That could change, though, because states such as Washington are making moves to count Advanced Placement computer science classes toward math and science graduation requirements.

During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15), an initiative called the Hour of Code will ask students, teachers, parents, and schools to introduce students to computer programming for just one hour.

Activities include lessons that teach students coding basics, an intro to JavaScript, how to create your own app, and more. More than 11,000 coding and computer science events were planned as of press time, involving nearly 1.8 million students in 144 countries.

While technology and engineering instruction were finally getting the attention they deserve, another movement sought to add a fifth element to STEM education, changing the acronym to “STEAM”—with an “A” for the arts.

Leading the charge is the Rhode Island School of Design, which maintains the website

“Design is increasingly becoming a key differentiator for technology startups and products,” the website says, and art and design “provide real solutions for our everyday lives, distinguish American products in a global marketplace, and create opportunity for economic growth.”

See also:

‘STEAM’ education gains momentum in schools

Wash. law boosts AP computer science education

Pilot hopes to draw students to computer programming through music


The coding movement: Resources for computer science education


How engineering is moving up in science classes


Six ed-tech tools for engineering instruction


Computer science education: The ‘why’ and ‘how’


Schools signing up for the Hour of Code


Kids learning computer code in after-school clubs


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